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What’s Wrong with Web 2.0

In a word, “expectations”. There is nothing wrong with the moniker itself, but when used as if it were a thing-in-itself, as something concrete, it inevitably becomes misleading. This is not something to solely blame on marketing hype – people crave simple labels, marketers are just accommodating us. We need to take a little responsibility for asking what such labels really mean. When forced to reduce Web 2.0 to something real, you end up with AJAX. There is also nothing wrong with AJAX or its components. The problem is overestimating what it can do for us.

Bill Thompson’s post “Web 2.0 and Tim O’Reilly as Marshal Tito” yesterday on The Register’s Developer site, is perhaps a little overstated, but is useful reading for VCs and IT strategists. Here’s a sample:

Web 2.0 marks the dictatorship of the presentation layer, a triumph of appearance over architecture that any good computer scientist should immediately dismiss as unsustainable. … Ajax is touted as the answer for developers who want to offer users a richer client experience without having to go the trouble of writing a real application, but if the long term goal is to turn the network from a series of tubes connecting clients and servers into a distributed computing environment then we cannot rely on Javascript and XML since they do not offer the stability, scalability or effective resource discovery that we need.


If you have been hearing about Ajax technology and are curious, you might want to check out this pretty cool dictionary site. The developer offers a helpful explanation of how it works, including some potential risks and tradeoffs. Up until now, Google Suggest has been kind of the canonical example of Ajax for this kind of application, but I think I like this one better. Some of the bloggers over at ZDNet have been doing a nice job of explaining Ajax and other such technologies and how they will impact traditional applications such as Microsoft Office. I think there are all kinds of implications for content management, with authoring and search interfaces only the beginning.

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