Five Reasons Why the Web 2.0 Matters

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1. The Focus of Technology Moves To People With Web 2.0. One of the lessons the software industry relearns every generation is that it’s always a people problem. It’s not that people are the actual problem. It’s when software developers use technology to solve our problems instead of addressing the core issues that people are actually facing. Then the wrong things inevitably happen; we’ve all seen technology for its own sake or views of the world which are focused much too little on where people fit into the picture. Put another way, people and their needs have to be at the center of any vision of software because technology is only here to make our lives and businesses better, easier, faster or whatever else we require. Web 2.0 ideas have been successful at least in effectively putting people back into the technological equation. This even goes as far as turning it on its head entirely and making the technology about people. Web 2.0 fundamentally revolves around us and seeks to ensure that we engage ourselves, participate and collaborate together, and mutually trust and enrich each other, even though we could be separated by the entire world geographically. And Web 2.0 gives us very specific techniques to do this and attempts to address the “people problem” directly.

2. Web 2.0 Represents Best Practices. The ideas in the Web 2.0 toolbox were not pulled from thin air. In fact, they were systemtically identified by what actually worked during the first generation of the Web. Web 2.0 contains proven techniques for building valuable Web-based software and experiences. The original Design Patterns book was one of the most popular books of its time because it at long last represented distilled knowledge of how to design software that used ideas that were reusable and accessible. So too are the Web 2.0 best practices. If you need to make software deliver the highest value content and functionality to its users, Web 2.0 is one of the most important the places to start.

3. Web 2.0 Has Useful Feng Shui. Yes, I’ll get in trouble for stating it this way but I think it fits, here goes… I’m a technologist by background and I don’t buy into the new-agey vision of Web 2.0 that has sometimes been promulgated. And I certainly don’t believe that Web 2.0 has a “morality” as the famous Tim O’Reilly/Nicholas Carr debate highlighted. However, as someone that has designed and built lots of software for two decades now, I have plenty of regard for the way the pieces of Web 2.0 truly fit together and mutually reinforce each other. Why does this matter? It has to do with critical mass and synergy, two vital value creation forces. Taken individually, Web 2.0 techniques like harnessing collective intelligence, radical decentralization, The Long Tail are quite powerful, but they all have a potency much greater than their simple sum when added together and they strongly reinforce each other. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that only “doing” parts of Web 2.0 can get you into some real trouble. You need a core set in order to be successful and the value curve goes geometric. This is why the value of software built this way is so much greater. Here’s an earlier post that provides more detailed examples of why this is.

4. Quality Is Maximized, Waste Is Minimized. The software world is going through one of its cyclical crises as some development jobs go overseas and older, more bloated ways of building software finish imploding as the latest software techniques become more and agile and lightweight (sometimes called lean). The guys over at 37Signals say it best… Using Web 2.0 you can build better software with less people, less money, less abstractions, less effort, and with this increase in constraints you get cleaner, more satisfying software as the result. And simpler software is invariably higher quality.

5. Web 2.0 Has A Ballistic Trajectory Velocity. Never count out the momentum of a rapidly emerging idea. For example, I’m a huge fan of Eric Evans’ Domain Driven Design but it’s so obscure that it will probably never get off the ground in a big way. There’s no buzz, excitement, or even a general marketplace for it. This is Web 2.0’s time in the sun, deserved or not. You can use the leviathan forces of attention and enthusiasm that are swirling around Web 2.0 these days as a powerful enabler to make something important and exciting happen in your organization. Use this opportunity to seize the initiative, ride the wave, and build great software that matters.


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