Maggie Shiels

Renaming Web 2.0

  • Maggie Shiels
  • 3 Apr 09, 08:28 GMT

At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, internet guru Tim O'Reilly threw out the possibility that perhaps the name should be changed.

Tim O'Reilly at Web 2.0 expoHe said he and his friend John Battelle of Federated Media had been playing around with an alternative which was Web 2.0 + World = Web Squared.

When I asked Mr O'Reilly if he loved or hated the name Web 2.0 that he popularised, he let out a big sigh and said "Awww does it have to be one or the other?"

Eventually he admitted "I love it and I hate it. It's a term that has been very effective and very successful in getting across an idea. I spent a long time talking about that idea around the turn of the Millenium, talking about building the internet operating system. It didn't catch on and all of a sudden we had this new term Web 2.0 and everyone got it so how could you not love that?"

In the end he said "I have mixed feelings about it. I am delighted with its effectiveness, it did what I wanted it to do. To catalyse the industry after the dotcom bust that things weren't over and that something mattered about the companies that had survived. They knew something that the others didn't. And I think that continues to be true.

"The companies that are succeeding today understand better than others what it means to be building software in the age of the internet."

As to really getting behind Web Squared, Mr O'Reilly said "It was just one of these idle thoughts where you go dub dub dub and then you go one more w and that gets you to web squared, right?"

My unscientific research on the expo floor found more people hating than loving the Web 2.0 title.

Paul Thompson said "Keep it. It hasn't been around for very long and you need a few years to build an identity. If you replace it with Web Squared, people will go what happened to Web 2.0?"

Mark Kirthcart thought "it's sounding a little dated and overused."

Sindee Thomson's view was "Web 3.0 will be here soon." For her, Web Squared was a total no no. "I hate it. It reminds me of mathematics and I was never good at my sums. I think it should be Web Cubed."

Brooklynn Morris was a big fan. "I think Web 2.0 is a great title but I think people don't like titles in general especially when it gets in the way of free concepts."

Kevin Marshall said he thought people were "tired of Web 2.0 because of all the hype around it. Web Squared however, I don't think is any better."

Alistair Mitchell suggested that instead of Web Squared it should be "Web Shared because the web today is all about sharing - sharing the content of your life through things like Flickr, Facebook, where you live, where you are and how you work."

Taomas Rio said "Web 2.0 is too techy. Sure the core of people who come here know what it means but the internet is always evolving so why do you need versions or numbers to categorise it?"

As for Web Squared, Taomas was aghast. "Oh no that's web weird!"

Any better suggestions?


  • Comment number 1.

    Let's stop trying to apply version numbers to the web. It's *one* web and always will be - a platform that's constantly evolving for the iterations upon it.

  • Comment number 2.

    What about just calling it "The Web" The majority of people who aren't geeks couldn't care less.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's not relevant to anything - it's not as if this referred to a commercial release of a new version of an older product, which required a handle. The web is constantly evolving and does not have "versions".

    Call it "Dave" or "Tarquin" or whatever. It doesn't matter.

    A rose by any other name...

  • Comment number 4.

    Trying to rename a fairly nebulous concept that doesn't belong to anyone...

    does anyone else find this ridiculous?

    Like renaming the global recession to the 'credit crunch'!

  • Comment number 5.

    Slow news day?

  • Comment number 6.

    This fatuous obsession with neologisms is what turns people off technology. Usability is about making technology the slave of people and not the master...

    'Hip' and 'cool' urban 'trend-setters' try to show they are ahead of the curve by using the most outlandish terminology, and succeed only in looking as out of touch with public opinion as those bankers and their acronyms like 'CDOs', 'SIVs' and so on.

    Here's a thought. Make technology so that ANYONE can understand it. Robert Peston is not thought less of because he explains the business world in a way which is clear and simple to understand to the layman.

    Stephanie Flanders does not consider it beneath her to explain complex economics in a simple and clear way.

    The asinine obsession with making the world of technology like the world of F1 racing, and completely unintelligible to the non-cognoscenti just looks ridiculous.

    And having worked with many IT people on projects I can confirm that the use of such jargon is, like their public sector counterparts, often a way of trying to cover up their failings by seeking to bamboozle their readers or listeners - and the public are wise to such infantile tactics.


  • Comment number 7.

    As a graphic designer working within this industry for 9 years, this term is hollow and pointless:

    To try and pigeon hole types of websites or a period in the developed of the is free flowing ever changing technology of the internet undermines its power and hints at some kind of "defining moment" that I strongly feel has yet to materialize.

    It gives outsiders and businessmen something tangible to hold onto to but serves no useful purpose outside of newspapers and leads to further confusion. The internet has yet to really become definable, points, trends and periods of developed can only be marked years after they have been have become history. Web 2.0? Get over it.

  • Comment number 8.

    No mention of Web 3.0 as the 'Semantic Web' here. The term is meant to refer to the next iteration of the web being smarter.

    Web 2.0 is about engaging the user and user generated content. We see that with social media platforms and sites where we can do useful stuff - software as a service, or SaaS as it's known.

    Web 3.0 should be about the web as a place where we can do useful stuff but sites then help us to do our jobs (and play) in a more intelligent way, helping in productivity and speeding things up.

    It's about being able to put your accounts online and then the accounts website giving recommendations on where you could cut costs, increase profit, etc. Smart web rather than just useful.

    We're not there yet - we're probably at web 2.5 (as stated above).

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm waiting for web 10.0, where we're all plugged into a "machine" and slaves of the aliens who have taken over our planet....

    Seriously what is web 2.0 to the average person on the street?


    Unless you're in the industry no-one cares, and even if you are in the industry why would you care, the end user in their office/home has no idea what web 2.0 is?!

    I guess we could define web 2.0 as the explosion of blogs about pointless marketing terms by overpaid hacks...

  • Comment number 10.

    Web 2.0 has become a parody of its former self. Sites that stay in beta forever, rely on user generated content and strive to make money from advertising.

    Twitter is the current media darling, previously it was Blogger, and before that Flickr (who were both purchased by Google and Yahoo respectively). MySpace, after being bought by Murdoch has gone the way of Geocities, which ironically was itself bought by Yahoo back in 1999. It seems once big business starts trying to monetise these things, users desert them, and move on to the next fad, whatever it might be called.

    Yes during that time, sites like BBC News, The Register and The Guardian have kept going strong - why? Because they offer original content you can't get elsewhere.

    To me, the biggest changes on the Net in the last 10 years have been new mediums like Podcasts and being able to watch TV on demand.

  • Comment number 11.

    Before Twitter, Myspace and even Geocities, there was Usenet, BBS and IIRC - arguably more engaging to the user and more based on user-generated content than anything under the fatuous term "Web 2.0". It never made any sense as a concept, the internet was based on UGC before the web was invented. An interesting book on this topic is "Coercion: Why We Listen to What 'They' Say" by Doug Rushkoff where he bemoans the centralising of the internet and the change from multi-way communication to one-way broadcasting that came with the worldwide web.

  • Comment number 12.


  • Comment number 13.

    i thought the internet was a series of tubes...

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with Tim - the Web 3.0 is coming. Check for online URL topic extraction.

  • Comment number 15.

    Did anyone actually know what Web 2.0 meant? It was defined in so many different places. Web 2.0 was what marketers said it was. It was and is a buzzword and was meaningless.

    The internet is all about progression and change, and to label a specfic change to be a new version seems very arbitary.

  • Comment number 16.

    >>i thought the internet was a series of tubes...

    Nah, last time I saw it, it was a small black box with a red light on top. Apparently it's synchronised by WI-FI to a transmitter at the top of Big Ben!


  • Comment number 17.

    I've written a number of posts about Web 2.0 and 3.0 [1].

    I think Web 2.0 has a clear set of characteristics that solidify its definition. Likewise, I also believe Web 3.0 has a clear set of characteristics that solidify its definition.

    A subtle issue (marketing wise) for some commentators is the notion that Web 3.0 obsoletes Web 2.0 whereas in reality they are symbiotic (as are all Web innovations ultimately).

    BTW - Your organization is on the vanguard of Web 3.0 :-)


    1. - Compare & Contrast of Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0

    2. - BBC's vanguard efforts in the Web 3.0 realm.

    Kingsley Idehen

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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