28th September 2007

What’s Web 2.0? Again….

In any given week I have the opportunity to talk with both the web 2.0 savvy and those that are still asking the fundamental question of "what is it?"  There’s no shortage of resources for answering this question, but as I’ve said before, the same explanation doesn’t resonate with everyone.

So, I thought I’d add another explanation that has been very useful to me as of late.

It goes something like this.  Most web users arrive on web pages via search - ultimately they are looking for something or have a question.  The problem with most web sites is they are lonely, closed experiences.  Visit any given web site and there could be 10s, 100s, 1000s, 10000s of other users on the site at the same time (depending on the size/popularity of the site) - but their presence on the site is invisible to you.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, what do you do?  Back to search.

What web 2.0 does is it exposes the presence and activities of all these other users.  It turns a static experience into a social experience.  Better yet, it gives you access to the collective knowledge of all those other users.  And perhaps, most importantly it gives the users social proof that this is a "good" place to be.

Imagine you are in an unfamiliar city looking for a place to eat.  You see two restaurants.  The first one has no other customers in it…and the second one is crowded.  Which one do you want to eat at?  What if there’s a 15 minute wait at the crowded one?  If you’re like me you will go to the busy place.  All that visible evidence tells you a great deal about the restaurant that reassures you this is the place to be.

Now, it could be that other restaurant just opened and actually has better food, but perception, comfort and risk aversion naturally pushes you to the busy place.

It’s easy enough to pull this analogy apart and describe all sorts of web 2.0 sites that don’t really fit this example perfectly - that’s not the point.  The point is finding ways to describe this evolution that resonate with the broadest set of people possible.  If you want to be a web 2.0 evangelist to your friends, your mom, your legal department, your IT department or your executives, but they don’t seem to get it, who has the problem?  Not them, you’re the evangelist.  It’s your job to continue to find the right way to tell the story until you see that oh so sweet "ah ha!" moment.


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This entry was posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007 at 1:31 pm and is filed under General Community Discussion, Social Media, web 2.0. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. 1 On September 28th, 2007, Sue Waters said:

    Interesting as you know I am a bit into Web 2.0 but feel that to save my sanity it is better to compartmentalize my life.

    For me no point talking about Web 2.0 with people who are not ready to get it - so when in my aquacultture position I use with students but don’t really talk about it with other staff at this location. The other half of the work I am in my professional development role teaching people how to use — who want to know — so talk about it lots.

    Friends? might need to have a BBQ not sure if they even know how to use email properly…..mmmmm

    Within my organisation it is slowly slowly finding the right people to make them realise. Hard work. As a side laugh showed my students twitter the other day. They are totally freaked out — apparently it is wrong to talk online with people you don’t know. That is just plain weird! Not normal (they are 18 upwards). So called digital generation.


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