Saturday, March 7, 2009

Web 2.0: Fail?

I'm toying with a new feature called Adventures in Missing the Point. Every once in a while I come across a very well-written, thoroughly researched article that is full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing. Though I admire the author's efforts, it is, in essence, a waste of time and energy because they have invested themselves in making an irrelevant point.

Here's an article, posted on CNN Money a few weeks ago, that fits the bill. Writer Jessi Hempel offers the assertion that the idea of Web 2.0 (the social-networking, user-generated arm of the Internet) has been an epic failure...because it failed to make a bunch of money. I'm confident that Hempel is correct, in the sense that Web 2.0 sites are not manufacturing oodles of advertising revenue. I'm equally confident that it doesn't really matter.

Web 2.0 set out to make the Internet more useful to the average person. It exists to make the Web a tool that everyone can use to supplement their existing relationships, and help users reconnect with people they have fallen out of contact with. The goal was not to create billionaire moguls out of people like Mark Zuckerberg (founder & CEO of Facebook). The goal was to create functional resources that people can use to teach and learn from one another. Web 2.0 is's information-sharing in its purest form. And, as such, it is only concerned with making enough money to sustain itself.

This is why Web 2.0 not only doesn't deserve "total bust" status, but the fact that most of Web 2.0 companies haven't gone under (unlike the DotCom boom & bust of the late 1990's) is reason enough to declare it a roaring success.

Nearly 200 million active Facebook users and 6 million Twitter users would probably agree.

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