2.0 Wheels on my Bandwagon

It’s a genuine pleasure to see [tag]Cork[/tag] attracting world class speakers and events – something that is happening regularly these days thanks in large measure to a very active it@Cork. I have to admit that my pleasure at the latest such event is somewhat diluted by its topic: [tag]Web 2.0[/tag] Mini Conference.

Yagiz and I have already exhibited enough righteous indignation at the ease with which meaningless buzzwords are born in this industry.

Well now I’m beginning to think that the whole Web 2.0 thing is a big joke (a deliberate one, that is). Any day now, [tag]O’Reilly[/tag] and friends are going to hold a press conference, shaking with laughter and wiping away tears, swearing that they never thought it would go this far. Take a look at the San Francisco Web 2.0 conference site (Apparently it’s the third annual Web 2.0 conference – did I miss a year!?) It’s slogan is Disruption and Opportunity. Could it be any more obvious!? Disruption for those of us who are trying to make a living creating software. Opportunity for those who are making a living selling us snake oil. I expect that O’Reilly’s keynote speaker this year will be Edna Mode from The Incredibles, linking in by satellite to tell us that Web 2.0 looks “too fabulous on you Dahling”.

If you are planning on attending this event (and trading is brisk, I’m told) then I would respectfully suggest you measure its success by the following yardstick:

If in the course of the afternoon’s proceedings you find you are learning something useful – some way of doing your job better that will make your business stronger – then great! If on the otherhand you find that yourself nothing but a voyeur to a thought-leader love-in, then head to the refreshments table and try to extract some value there instead. Here are some tell-tale signs that you should direct yourself towards IT@Cork’s excellent selection of New World wines:

  • You feel like you are partaking in a reprise of the “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” scene from Life of Brian.
  • You have the feeling that comes 30 minutes after eating fast food: You distinctly remember eating something but you still feel hungry.
  • You realise that the reason you find yourself nodding vehemently in agreement is that you’re being told something that you already know.
  • You want to put your hand up and ask a question, but as nothing you’ve heard so far makes any sense to you, you’re afraid that you’ll look foolish in front of your peers. (Guess what – it really doesn’t make any sense!)

I earnestly hope I’m wrong, and that something practical and useful can be learned from the day. I might even attend. Though I expect I’ll be standing within easy reach of the Chilean Merlot.

– brendan lawlor –

  1. #1 by Donagh Kiernan on May 15, 2006 - 2:50 pm

    a case of the cynical techie again, I think.

    So Web 2.0 is nothing new to the techies. So this stuff has been around for years and is now called something else.

    But maybe, for once, it’s not about technology but more about the business models that are coming through.

    I’m not convinced yet either, but like Agile methodologies, there is some good in it but you’d dare not take the whole thing.

  2. #2 by Larkin Cunningham on May 15, 2006 - 4:24 pm

    Unfortunately, from what I can see, Web 2.0 is more about opportunism than opportunity. It’s just a ploy to stimulate dotcom investment. It really doesn’t have any substance.

    Titles like “What the Internet can do for your business” or “Where the Internet is going” were just too boring, so they thought that the term “Web 2.0” would be more media friendly and make it seem like something new. Like someone cracked the practical implementation of cold fusion or something.

    It seems that ultimately Web 2.0 is just a means of re-invigorating investor confidence in a market that took a hammering since the “dot bomb” crash.

    I can imagine a broker talking to a potential investor…

    Broker: You gotta buy these hot shares in X Technologies.

    Investor: I dunno. I got stung when my dot com shares bottomed out.

    Broker: But that was Web 1.0. What I’m selling are Web 2.0 shares – much better business model.

    Investor: Ok. But what about Y Systems? Aren’t they a good buy?

    Broker: No. They are still a Web 1.0 company. they haven’t gotten on the Web 2.0 bandwagon yet, whereas X Technologies have.

  3. #3 by Brendan Lawlor on May 15, 2006 - 4:28 pm

    Hi Donagh,

    The suggestion that there is a cynical mindset prevelant amongst ‘techies’ doesn’t stack up against, for example, this company’s blog history. It’s disingenuous to suggest that my blog entry is merely the product of a ‘cynical techie’.

    My biggest beef with Web 2.0 is not a technical one, it is a business one. The definitive explanation of Web 2.0 is Tim O’Reilly’s article, written less than a year ago, where he describes it as “Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”. His acid test for whether a company is Web 2.0 boils down to a 7-point check list, one of which is ‘Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models’.

    So Web 2.0 apparently covers a multiplicity of business models, none of which Mr. O’Reilly deigns to detail in a lengthy but rambling article. What are our business leaders to do with this vague collection of banalities? Can we honestly expect them to take this claptrap and turn it into gold? I suspect that as with any other goldrush, the only ones getting rich with be those who are selling the shovels.

    I still hold out some slight hope of having all this difficult business model stuff explained to me at the conference. I hope I will finally learn what this new 3-year-old business model can do for DSI’s clients.


    PS: I’ll make you a deal. You don’t call me a ‘techie’, and I won’t call you a ‘suit’ 😉

    PPS: I’ve no idea what the connection is between Agile development (a reasonably well defined, and in our case empirically-proven-to-be-effective, set of practices) and Web 2.0 a, well, what is it again?

  4. #4 by Donagh Kiernan on May 16, 2006 - 7:40 am

    hi Brendan, I’m a techie in a suit.

    Web 2.0 is a bandwagon but it’s not all bad if it drives good projects, and I’m sure there are some. Indeed superficial projects will get funding based on buzz-words but this will always happen in a growing investment market.

    Techies are not cynics, but aren’t you a techie and aren’t your comments cynical.

    On mentioning Agile developments, new ideas often have their good effective parts and other parts not to be considered.

    As you are, I’m waiting to see what’s effective in Web 2.0

  5. #5 by Brendan Lawlor on May 16, 2006 - 8:10 am

    Hey Donagh,
    I am cynical about Web 2.0. But my comments should not be dismissed as “a case of the cynical techie again”, because it is not my habit to be cynical without good reason. This 2.0 phenomenon is not suffering from cynicism – it’s generating it.

    Perhaps the audience is wrong? If Web 2.0 is actually a booster jab for IT investment, as Larkin has suggested and you appear to be conceding, then great. Sell it to the investment community.

    But let’s not work the IT business community into a lather when there are plenty of real things that they can be doing to add customer value.

    BTW: Suits/Techies – These categories are so Web 1.0 Dahling! 😉

  6. #6 by jmurphy on May 16, 2006 - 2:52 pm

    I truly believe that this Web 2.0 business is marketing hype. Brendan and Larkin are absolutely right – its the latest means to extract money from the gullible, sorry investors, sorry pension funds. Should we be concerned? Yes.

    From Chris Sherman -President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm, and Executive Editor of SearchEngineWatch.com in a recent interview with e-consultancy.

    e-consultancy: Is all this talk of ‘Web 2.0’ a bit dangerous? 

    CS: Not so much dangerous as silly. Web 2.0 companies are producing some cool applications, but outside of the blogosphere and Silicon Valley, few “real” web users have a clue about what they do. 

    They’re not going to be transformational, in the way the development of the original search engines was. It’s really just all about innovation, and making the user experience better. Web 2.0 is a great marketing handle, but really has little substance in its own right.

  7. #7 by Donagh Kiernan on May 16, 2006 - 8:32 pm

    Is it not another wave in the new industrial revolution? Is it mere hype or is Web 2.0 simply trying to define the evolutionary development of how the web is used?

    I agree it is a buzzword, half conceptual to capture the essence of innovation. Investors seek to define the new wave to invest in. They are half to blame for the mad buzz whatever it is.

    No doubt, at one point, people spoke similiarly of the Internet.

    Are we closing our eyes to a greater revolution? As Napoleon said to the guy presenting the first steamship “you mean we light a fire in the hull of th ship and it will make it go faster. Get this guy out of here”.

    What drives innovation amd market adoption can’t be a bad thing. Remember the old adage of waiting ’till version 2.0 to ensure that all the bugs were out. So maybe all the bugs are out now. -:)

  8. #8 by Shel Israel on May 16, 2006 - 11:47 pm

    Hey Brendon,

    I agree with you that the name Web 2.0 is kind of sucky and I’ve tried my best to fight it. That being said, I think there is a great deal going on in the formation of companies that decentralize controls, taking power away from big organizations and giving it to communities. Whatever yo call it, there are opportunties in it for Ireland and for entrepreneurs everywhere. I’m speaking at the ITCork to which you refer, and I’m working hard to make the presentation worthwhile. If not, yo are welcome to jeer me from the audience.

  9. #9 by Brendan Lawlor on May 17, 2006 - 7:55 am

    Hi Shel,
    I know that you are a strong advocate of the business blog. As you can see, we are with you 100% on that. It’s unfortunate that you are coming to speak in Cork under a banner that you disapprove of, and I’d encourage you to continue to fight it while you’re here.

    To my mind, Web 2.0 is a moniker being attached to a soup of unrelated practices, technologies and even individual web sites. Without giving away too much of the content of your upcoming presentation, can you give readers of this blog an idea of what ingredients of the minestrone you are interested in?

  10. #10 by David Mulligan on May 17, 2006 - 11:22 am

    While you guys are still wondering what Web 2.0 is and how to make it work for your company or projects, I’m busy creating Web 2.1.4 (Build 39) which includes to name a few: RSS++, AJAX squared, SQL on Rails and not forgetting Floodlight (more powerful version of LAMP). I’m currently integrating a drain board, but I don’t want to overly bloat the system by adding the full sink. These technologies should illuminate even the dullest of mind from 500 feet away. Better jump on board now as this bandwagon is about to leave the station.

    – Yes, there’s loads of cool technology available now that wasn’t quite there a few years ago.
    – Yes, a few AJAX and other social network websites have become extremely popular lately.
    – Yes, if I create a Web 2.0 website, I may get my 15 minutes of fame.

    Why am I getting the feeling my last two points are the reasons people are embracing Web 2.0?
    It seems to be more about what technology you are using rather then what you are doing!

  11. #11 by Yagiz Erkan on May 18, 2006 - 5:01 am

    Oh my God! I’m missing a great discussion by being away this week :). In a short while, I’m going to post my JavaOne 2006 Day 2 blog to let you know about “Something-Else 2.0”. This morning Oracle told us about the 3 concepts that they are putting the emphasis on. One of them is “Java EE 5”. And the other two are… hold on to your seats… “Web 2.0″… yeah you were expecting this one… and… who can guess the next one?: “SOA 2.0″… yes Service Oriented Architecture 2.0. Looks like the “twodotohitis” is contagious. It’s a joke really…

  12. #12 by Donagh Kiernan on May 18, 2006 - 2:27 pm

    We’re blueskying here, while Yagiz is talking real ground level business benefits in system performace at the biggest Java conference in the world.

    Great Contrast..

  13. #13 by Brendan Lawlor on May 18, 2006 - 2:48 pm

    I’m not sure what blueskying means? If it means ‘plucking things out of thin air’ then one of us is certainly guilty 😉

  14. #14 by Donagh Kiernan on May 18, 2006 - 3:20 pm

    Blueskying requires a level of open-mindness and thought projection beyond what can be seen in front of one’s face.;)

    Apart from any questions of guilt, the real question is: “Is there a path from today’s reality into what the Web 2.0 community present?”

    Do you want to take this outside?

  15. #15 by Brendan Lawlor on May 18, 2006 - 3:25 pm

    So my definition of blueskying was pretty accurate then.

    Take it outside? Ehmmmm, I think we already have 🙂

  16. #16 by jmurphy on May 19, 2006 - 12:52 pm

    For perspective on this, let us go to what some would call a creature of Web 2.0 itself- Wikipedia. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this Web 2.0:

    The term “Web 2.0” refers to what some people see as a second phase of development of the World Wide Web, including its architecture and its applications. It was coined by Dale Dougherty during a meeting between O’Reilly and Associates (a computer book publisher) and MediaLive International (an event organizer) as a marketable term for a series of conferences.

    There you have it. A slogan. Nothing more.

  17. #17 by Donagh Kiernan on May 19, 2006 - 3:37 pm

    Every great movement needs a great slogan

  18. #18 by Brendan Lawlor on May 19, 2006 - 4:17 pm

    Perhaps, but I know of no great movement that is a slogan.

  19. #19 by Donagh Kiernan on May 19, 2006 - 5:07 pm

    “Don’t cha wish you’re Java stuff was just like me”, – Web 2.0

    The mystique grows, but only to be revealed / resolved / dissolved by going to the IT@Cork Web 2.0 event – visit checkout http://www.itcork.ie

  20. #20 by Larkin Cunningham on May 26, 2006 - 9:53 am

    I can’t help but smile (sorry about that) at the irony that the said Web 2.0 event ended up at the centre of a $h1t-storm about the real motives behind Web 2.0(sm?). And in a way has sounded the death knell for Web 2.0(sm?).

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