Web 2.0 ... It's a state of mind
Some talk about Web 2.0 as though it’s a specific piece of software that went through a major upgrade. Others talk about Web 2.0 from their own unique area of expertise such as search engine optimization or social media.
But, Web 2.0 isn’t so specific nor so narrow as either one of those. To find a definition, I went to one of the tools that Web 2.0 made possible.
According to Wikipedia…
Web 2.0 is a term describing the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the Web.
Hmmm. While technically accurate, this description doesn’t begin to capture the revolution that Web 2.0 represents.
Does anyone else remember the circa 1984 Apple Macintosh Introduction commercial? In this spot a woman with a sledgehammer busts into an Orwellian gathering of drably dressed people presumable being brainwashed by the individual droning to them from a super sized screen. In dramatic fashion, the woman does a superbly delivered hammer throw right into the middle of the screen.
It was a great commercial for Apple because the Macintosh dragged ordinary individuals out of a ho-hum world of computerized mindlessness and into a place where they could actually enjoy using their computer.
A similar revolution is taking place with Web 2.0. People are breaking through their static ways of thinking about how they interact with one another, and with whom they can interact, and developing a whole new way of interacting.
The best I can do is to give you some examples of what’s happening now.
Wikipedia – as I already mentioned, is one of my favorites. It’s a free online encyclopedia where anyone can contribute and provide edits to articles. Today, there are more than 2 million articles in English and more than 10 million articles in more than 250 languages. Who would ever have thought this was possible?
LinkedIn – my favorite social networking site. These sites take the concept of “six degrees of separation” and put it to practical use. Apparently, I am three degrees of separation from each of the Presidential candidates. Of course, not everyone is on LinkedIn yet. If I wanted to get a message to the Dalai Lama, for example, I’d have to try another way.
Twitter – takes the concept of Instant Messenger and opens it up to the electronically gregarious. You can tell complete strangers what you are thinking or doing as long as you can do it in fewer than 140 characters. Of course, you can also use it to connect with important business contacts that you would never have met any other way.
Blogs - If you’ve been following the political process you know what a force these people have become. However, blogging has become an amazingly easy way to get your opinions on anything shared with the world if you’re so inclined.
Web Tools – Corporate web pages have gone from static e-brochures to interactive sites where you can engage your prospect. If I can’t find your business online, don’t count on me to go back to the phone book. Eventually, I’ll get to the point where I won’t do business with any business that doesn’t allow me to book my own service, such as a haircut or dentist appointment, online.
Personal websites are also becoming much more common and much easier to create. I remember when we first built a website for my husband’s online storefront ten years ago. He bought a huge book on HTML and studied it. Now, there are all sorts of tools that allow you to set up your own website in less than a weekend. Any HTML you do need is usually already available so that all you do is cut and paste. For example LinkedIn provides the HTML for a button that you can add to invite others to review your profile right from your site.
I predict that more and more people will start their own websites showcasing their careers and accomplishments to use as an interactive electronic resume. Won’t that be a nice change from the static black and white resumes that never represent anyone adequately anyway.
The list of Web 2.0 innovations could go on and on. The point is that Web 2.0 is more about busting down the limits of the human imagination than it is about the technology itself. It’s taking the technology that is available today, coupled with dramatic increases in computing power and availability, and reaching out to the world in ways never imaged before.
So, the next time your boss asks you to develop the web 2.0 marketing plan I hope you are excited. He or she is recognizing that we’re on the verge of a new frontier in human interaction. You should see it as a vote of confidence in your ability to tackle this new opportunity and make some sense of it.
Just open your mind to all the possibilities and explore. Some opportunities will make sense right away while others may take some time and experimentation. Not everything will last and it may be hard to keep up with all the new tools available. But, what an exciting time to be in marketing!