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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Web 2.0 as an enzyme: breaking down the hype

I've made no secret of my passion for the The Economist. Its byline-less wisdom is a refreshing treat in an age of biased rantings that pass for news. While other periodicals are falling all over themselves publishing stories entitled "It Feels Like 1998 All Over Again", I can depend on a dry, archly written subtitle from the Big E: "If it's cool, it's probably Web 2.0."

The latest? A short and sweet piece on the hype and evolution of meaning behind Web 2.0, with the requisite snappy quote: "We think of ourselves as an enzyme,” says Mr O'Reilly. “When we see something coalescing, we give it a name.” An enzyme, matter that catalyzes, or speeds up, a chemical reaction. Snappy.

According to the article, Web 2.0 began with a specific and useful definition. In contrast to the static web pages of the 1990s, the second wave of websites would make web pages look like dynamic software applications that traditionally run only on personal computers.

Then, at some point, " 'Web 2.0' took on a life of its own, being applied to online social networks, collective intelligence, blogging and podcasting and “participation” in general. It started being used in sentences that also contained other buzzwords, such as the “long tail”, “folksonomies”, or the “semantic web”. It is in danger of meeting the fate of “core”, “synergy”, and “leverage”, but, for the time being, Mr O'Reilly is delighted."

Hype-ase anyone?


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