I think most of us who design or develop websites have run into the phrase: “Make my site like Web 2.0ish” followed by a far off look in our eyes and a smile waiting to explode. I saw the phrase “Web 3.0″ used in a Mashable article so casually it was as though it’s an understood and accepted fact. As several leaders in the discussion of the world wide web have pointed out when asked about Web 3.0, it’s more or less a marketing term.
Now to clear some things up before we continue on here I will say that I’m not arguing that Web 2.0 isn’t used to describe certain things that are identifiable. What I’m arguing is that the word and these continual version numbers should not exist.
Web 1.0 is a term never used yet is imperative for the existence of Web 2.0. O’Reilly Media are the people who made the phrase Web 2.0 popular. What I have never understood is that for some tech people why they would add a version number to the word. Either they’re really stupid or they’re really smart. Changing the first number of a version implies that we are dealing with something completely different. Night and day. Yet here we are in 2010 and I can still do a Google search, have a Web 1.0 site pull up and find it useful. That’s all that matters I thought. That a site is able to properly meet its goals.
It doesn’t help that O’Reilly’s definition and explanation is five pages long. In the taxonomy of the world around us, outside of the scientific community, we don’t create words that encompass five pages of description. This is getting closer to the root of the problem and why it’s a marketing term and a marketing term only. You can Google “Web 2.0 colors” and get a result, “Web 2.0 designs” , “Web 2.0 applications” , “Web 2.0 penguins” and as such when someone says “Oh that’s Web 2.0″ , I don’t have the slightest clue as to what they’re referencing other than the site appears fresh and new.
Fresh and new. Imagine the past 100 years of cars. How many of you are driving a Car 10.0 right now? Most of us probably have a car and our car is either new, used, or old. How would you describe a car from the 1940′s? Now think of a car salesman in the 40′s. You weren’t just buying a new car, he had all these buzz words to describe this new technology from the war. Airplane technology being put into cars. Your car is going to fly. At the end of the day though, it’s just a car and after all the hype has gone down and something new comes out those buzz words will be lost in time and all that’s left is what it was in the first place: a car.
Websites and applications are the same. We don’t refer to websites in the 1990′s as “Web 1.0″. They’re old looking sites or a website built in the 1990′s. In 5 years when “Web 3.0″ is all the talk the phrase “Web 2.0″ will be gone. We’ll still use it, or know of it because it’s overused. The average internet user has never used the term “Web 1.0″ or thought about it, and they won’t think of “Web 2.0″ in 10 years because it’s just a buzz word. It doesn’t describe anything specific it’s only fodder for promotion or demotion like this article. At the end of the day all that you really have is just a website. Maybe you’ll use strategies from the Web 1.0, 2.0., or 3.0 era to make it achieve your goals.
My biggest gripe as I’ve eluded to is it being non specific and too much of an umbrella term. We all know that things change, like with cars. That’s the evolution of something. There’s no need to say that we are now in version 3 of the web. Just call it the web, everyone knows that things change and evolve and get better. Cell phones, cars, televisions, guns, stereos, speakers, etc. We all use a computer, the same computer that once took up the space of an entire room and had huge tubes powering it. What changes about the computer are the specifics. The processors have version numbers, the monitors, the video cards. Everything that is evolving in the guts is what changes but the computer still serves the same function and as such it is and will always be called a “computer”.
With that we have HTML5, Ruby on Rails, Cloud Computing, the guts of the web.. the specifics and the trends are what change and it is those things that version numbers and language really matters. The web is just the web and as much as it evolves and methods are created to make it faster and better and more useful it is still and always will be the “web”.
Unfortunately there’s nothing anyone can do to stop this monster of a misnomer. Hopefully for the sake of my sanity it gets overplayed and dies out. It’s kind of silly even writing an article now in hindsight. I think the fact that needing to read a multiple page definition of what “Web 2.0″ and “Web 3.0″ is; pretty much says it all.
So, do you think Web 1.0/2.0/3.0 are practical terms to use in design & development or are they marketing lingo?
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