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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