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The Death of Words – Part 2

April 13, 2007
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When I wrote the first part of this – after I'd been surprised to find the word 'scenario' was still useful – I little thought that it would apply to what's been one of the key words for me over the last 18 months – "Web2.0". Actually I'm not sure it is a word – it's more of a Slogo or a Logan. But it does turn out to be a good example.

Starting at the end – I think I'm going to have to start a 'Campaign for Real Web2.0'. Just as the Campaign for Real Ale arose from a frustration with keg beers, CO2, mass production and 'chemical' additives. So CaMRW (trips of the tongue) arises from a frustration with the hollowing out of the original meaning of Web2.0 – resulting in there being no guarrantee that when someone uses this term they will be applying the full depth, subtlety and richness of flavour. Right now 'Web2.0' is heading for the Dead Words pile. Many people think its already there. I think it's too soon to give up, and important not to.

I think that 'Web2.0' as originally coined marks a real watershed in the history of the web and of it's impact on people – in a sort of BC/AD way. I don't think Tim O'Reilly was making a dumb generalisation, nor do I think he was cynically appropriating a brand from which to make conferencing and publishing revenue. I also think that any connection between the "2.0" and the advent of a second wave of internet investment and high returns or valuations is at most secondary and contingent.

My genuine worry is that anyone who now utters "Web2.0" runs the risk of looking like they are way behind the game, of sounding old-fashioned or superficial or un-informed. There are some really important things about the original concept of Web2.0 that could be lost or diluted if this deters serious thinkers from using the term before we have some established substitutes. There's also a unity to the the original concept which could be lost if the substitution is for several disparate and specialised terms – such as 'social networking'.

I'm going to try to capture what I think those important and connected 'things' are and thereby suggest a manifesto for the Campaign for Real Web2.0

 

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