Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/11/11/web_two_point_naught_answers/

What is Web 2.0? You redefine the paradigm

Collective intelligence - It's not just for badgers

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Policy, 11th November 2005 01:59 GMT

Friday Poll Results Three weeks ago we asked you - what does "Web 2.0" mean? What is it, really? No one who promotes the buzzword seems to be able to explain it. Even after a few mystical incantations of "collective intelligence" - we were none the wiser.

Warning: Badgers

So we opened the floor to Register readers - the people who keep the machines running when all the hypes come and go.

And you answered our plea.

And how you did. From Manhattan to Mongolia (really) - from the Fortune 100 to charities, local authorities, IT vendors and distributors, came the suggestions. Thick and fast.

As many of you had written in within in 24 hours than had actually attended the $2000 a head "Web 2.0" conference. That's five a minute.

This was impressive.

But what we didn't expect was the level of vitriol you threw at this latest nebulous piece of metaphysical marketingese. A few of you were clearly hitting your Random Buzzword Generators hard. But overall, almost half of Register readers shunned the five suggested choices and wrote in your own. Many also supplemented the official suggestions with some very creative work.

Here's a selection to give you an idea.

Web 2.0 is made of ... 600 million unwanted opinions in realtime
Paul Moore
Web 2.0 is made of ... emergent blook juice
Ian Nisbet
Web 2.0 is made entirely of pretentious self serving morons.
Max Irwin
Web 2.0 is made of ...Magic pixie dust (a.k.a . Tim O'Reilly's dandruff)
Jeramey Crawford
Web 2.0 is the air for the next bubble
Web 2.0 is made of ... a lot of thin but very hot air blown at you by those who are convinced that having nothing to say is by no means a good reason to shut up.
Roon Micha
Web 2.0 is made of ... a row boat made up of a rather large hole.
Ted Crafton
Web 2.0 is made of ... les gazeuses des sapeurs-pompiers
Vaughan Lewis
Web 2.0 is made of ... 2 parts flour 1 part milk and 3 parts broken dreams
Daniel Nicholson
Web 2.0 is made of ... Sk^H^Hhype.
Edward Grace
Web 2.0 is made of ... a collective dynamic think-process
Ben Shephard
Web 2.0 is ... the vapourware output of people moving forward in pushing back the envelope of the corporate paradigm (to the sound of whalesong)
Michael Shaw
Web 2.0 is made of ... more ways for providers to rip us off
Mike Bunyan
Web 2.0 is made of ... millions upon millions of bandwagons, circled into one giant investor cluster-f**k
Richard Ellis
Web 2.0 is made of...the easily led
Colin Jackson
Web 2.0 is made of ... blooks and flooks?
Thomas Borgia
Web 2.0 is made of ...Porn 2.0
Phil Standen
Web 2.0 is made of ... the skin that forms on the top of the soup of the collective consciousness
Troy Fletcher
Web 2.0 is made of ... marketing and collaborative self-deception
Dave Burt
Web 2.0 is made of ...recycled tech blurbs, stitched together at random (a la software that randomly generates scientific articles, previously mentioned by El Reg), submitted surreptitiously to the blog hive mind.
B. Shubin
Web 2.0 is made of ... Diarrhoea for Work Groups (TM) - it keeps you entertained for a long time, spreads quickly and contains no hard facts.
Florian Merx

By now you've clocked that many of the write-in suggestions are far more hostile to Web 2.0 than our original suggestions - namely "Badger's Paws", "A Magic Swirling Ship", "Recycled copies of Esther Dyson's Release 1.0 newsletter", "Nothing".

In fact it's the most vitriolic outpouring from readers directed at anything in this reporter's experience.

So let the bloodletting continue -

Web 2.0 is ... complete crap, hype and bullshit and other self absorbed West Coast navel gazing pastimes
Doug Moncur
Web 2.0 is made of ...an infinite number of bloggers randomly generating Shakespeare. Professionals have no hope against infinity.
David Bond
Web 2.0 is like all the colors of the Rainbow remixed and remixed on a palette until it has that grayish-brown shit color
Alan Kaim
Web 2.0 is made of ... Ballmer's supply of "slightly worn" office chairs...
Steven Griffiths
Web 2.0 is made of ... over-eager people
James Cole
Web 2.0 is made of ... dreams - but if Web 1.0 is any indicator they will be wet-dreams
Stuart Morrison
Web 2.0 is made of ... Segway spare parts
Ben Letham
Web 2.0 is made of ... unsold Amstrad e-mailers
James Jeffrey
Web 2.0 is made of ...ideas without Foundation
Daryl Bamforth
Web 2.0 is made of …. staggeringly beautiful silken threads of links through hyperspace, capturing the purity of the morning's dew of condensed ideas and the rotting remains of semi-digested beatle-blogs.
Andrew Alcock
Web 2.0 is made of ... a collective of genetically modified intelligent microbes communicating though brainwave synchronization
Web 2.0 is made of ... Love and Peas
Mark Nellist
Web 2.0 is made of ... a collaborator trick to create a hive mind for the Borg Queen's ascendancy
Joe Robertson
Web 2.0 is made of ... infosphermekinalization
Perran Hill
Web 2.0 is made of …Outsauce
Jared Earle
Web 2.0 is the wet dream of wicky fidlers everywhere
Robin Pollard
Web 2.0 is made of a mix of SCO integrity, M$ stable code, George Bush's ethics, Bill Gates' personality and rocking horse sh!te
Alastair Bravey
Web 2.0 is made of...ground up marketing demons repackaged and rebranded to sell something that has existed on the internet since it begun. It's just a buzz word to get management interested in spending money
Roy Davis
Web 2.0 is made of a trillion shimmering threads of light, my data, your data, shared services, self improving programs, all human knowledge, all human experience, all those viruses, all your stash of "Scandinavian amateur photography", all my financial information!, all the PFY's collection of Paris Hilton videos!!.....WTF!!! Why does my screen say "42"?
Alan Boyd

You get the idea. All very impressive. Now let's analyze these numbers, and see if we can generate our own "meme map".

Web 2.0: how you voted

But wait. Didn't anyone out there stick up for the concept? Well, counting generously, we identified only two.

Chris Middleton offered "Web 2.0 is Evolution" and explained - "Web 2.0 is another step in the evolution of mankind, the sharing of ideas and dreams to inspire future generations to imagine more in the quest to find the ultimate answer."

And Thomas Ewing suggested "Web 2.0 is made of ... two Web 1.0s - Web 2.0 is just like Web 1.0, only better!"

There wasn't even grudging admiration for a project that collected $1.6 million in attendance fees from people for something that even the organizers couldn't explain. This is the lucrative foundation for a small church - and "collective intelligence" is nothing if not faith-based.

Still, with all the For and Against votes tallied, we can begin to get a fair picture of how Register readers perceive "Web 2.0" -

Web 2.0: A good thing, or a swindle?

But why?

A little basic literacy would have saved us a lot of trouble. Brian Wilson heard echoes of Lewis Carroll in Tim O'Reilly's "meme map" and descriptions -

"The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went on: "that begins with an M, such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness-- you know you say things are "much of a muchness"--did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?"

Tim Meadowcroft pulled this from his geek quotes file:

An architect's first work is apt to be spare and clean. He knows he doesn't know what he's doing, so he does it carefully and with great restraint.

As he designs the first work, frill after frill and embellishment after embellishment occur to him. These get stored away to be used "next time". Sooner or later the first system is finished, and the architect, with firm confidence and a demonstrated mastery of that class of systems, is ready to build a second system.

This second is the most dangerous system a man ever designs. When he does his third and later ones, his prior experiences will confirm each other as to the general characteristics of such systems, and their differences will identify those parts of his experience that are particular and not generalizable.

The general tendency is to over-design the second system, using all the ideas and frills that were cautiously sidetracked on the first one. The result, as Ovid says, is a "big pile".

-- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month", and the second system affect

In short, avoid version 2 of anything (Windows 2, crap 2nd albums, Web 2.0 etc)

Maria Helm writes -

Web 2.0 is made of ...

A bunch of over-the-hill programmers who are still under the impression :

1. that their computer skills make them 'l33t'

2. that their cash cow companies are still 'hip', despite being lumbering dinosaurs restrained by more government red tape than Harriet Miers

3. that they aren't 'the man', even though they want to take away as much money and rights from consumers as possible

...getting funding from a bunch of non-programmers who otherwise fit the same description.

Poignantly, and coming very close to scooping the prize himself, "Vlad" reminds us

Web 2.0 is made of ... a BOFH Excuse Generator

Please note that Web 2.0 should also be Hackable.

We wouldn't want security to get in the way of "radical trust".

Morely Dotes has this to add:

O'Reilly says, "Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices"

That's what technicians call "hype instead of content." Or in plain olde Anglo-Saxon, "bullshit".

A man I consider very wise once told me that if you can't teach something to someone else, then you don't understand it. I have found this to be true in the past 30 years or so. I therefore draw the conclusion that either

(a) Herr Tim doesn't understand Web 2.0; or

(b) there isn't any such thing outside of a collection of Marketing blurbs, which, as everyone knows, are without meaning, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.

My money is on (b). Your mileage may vary.

Matt Wolejko also narrowly misses out on a prize with his suggestion:

Web 2.0 is made of ... mutual masturbation

Everything I've seen from the Web 2.0 camp has pretty much indicated it will only appeal to people who want to spend all day diddling around with "interactive" websites to find inaccurate information created by other ill-informed people who also want to spend all day diddling around with "interactive" websites.

Some will no doubt argue that Web 2.0 being built on mutual masturbation is an advance over Web 1.0 (built mostly on solo masturbation). But have you seen who's on the other end? They really should keep their hands to themselves

Deadly accurate. Or should this empty-headed techno utopianism be re-classified as a mental illness?

What nonsk came up with the term "Web 2.0" anyway? What's next, "Web XP"? They should be slapped around the face with a wide selection of stale fish, one of which must most definately be a sea bass held by the tail with both hands for maximum face slapping potential. I'm sure if they spent some of their precious time in the presence of a professional psychologist, they'd be able to find some way to remove their heads from their own asses.

Guy Fraser

Nor do many of you think that a full point upgrade is justified -

Obviously "Web 2.0" is made of a "portlet" based on an "applet" that leverages an "EJB" and "push technology" to get you access to an old WAIS interface.


Oh, and "Never mind, just give us [more] money, we're emergent, dammit!"

Sean Ross

A few readers back the idea that it's really all about being anti-social:

Web 2.0 is ... A cosmic shift, a revolution - it's like talking to people - without the pesky annoyance of other people.

Martin Wood

Jez Wilde has seen the future, and it looks like this:

.Web 2.0 is ... an ethernet platform for remote computing whereby the software application paradigm is changed; from being screwed over by Microsoft for boxes of buggy operating systems, extortionately priced business applications, communications software that allows the world and their dog to play with your computer, proprietary lock-ins by changing an open programming language into a dot-netted version (XML-our-way, C-but-not-as-you-know-it, Java-remember-Krakatoa-hee-hee! etc.) all presented on a CD or DVD (now DRM'd) to a completely different collection, or not, of softwares that are offered on an ad hoc, per-user, basis on the WWW.

This will allow everyone and their dog (again) to offer similar, but certainly non compatible, software platforms and business applications on the web at which point we can all be screwed by our ISP's as well as Microsoft, the AV vendors, data warehousing and dedicated hosting companies for the pleasure of being able to work remotely with a thin client and not have cupboards full of DC's/DVD's and licenses.

At at least if you suffer a BSoD you won't be alone, everyone in your time zone using the system will be screaming at whoever is mad enough to offer a tech' services department.

[Permanent Beta alludes, I think, to FOSS software being at the core and being modified to suit individual needs as and when required by dedicated Googlies and other volunteers - not unlike the current state of affairs within the *nix community except the wish-lists will be not just longer but in hundreds of different human languages]

Personally, I'm going to just watch the whole thing for a while until it has some semblance of reality, stability and reliability - I shall spend the time practising telepathy and drinking beer.

Turning this into a Web 2.0 style "tag soup", where themes are sized according to their popularity, gives us this mind-bending graphic.

'Web 2.0' tagged by Register readers

Reg' readers' own "meme map" of Web 2.0" - click to enlarge

[ By the way you can print these off and do what you like with them. We simply reserve the right to exploit them for merchandising ... and sell your company our special "Web 2.0 - Collective Intelligence Explained" management consultancy seminars, billed at $1,900 per hour (£1,100 per hour) plus expenses - early bird special! hurry!]

Badger badger badger badger

Mushroom! Before we get to the winners, the Poll threw up some excellent trivia.

The badger paws which make up Web 2.0, if laid end to end, would reach from the Earth to the moon exactly 2.0 times.

Jonathan Whiteley

Hey, the Hive Mind never lies. We believe you, Jonathan.

"Badger" is the nickname for the woman that lured men into her rooms on the promise of a good time. Once a compromising condition was established, the badger's male accomplice would burst into the room posing as an aggrieved husband or a policeman. The victim was then robbed and thrown into the street.

That's why Web 2.0 is made of Badger's paws.....

Donnell Rogers

And did you know you can install Linux on a badger? Not a live badger, silly, but like this.

Finally we noticed that the poll, which went up around 6am UK Time, drew a very salty response from readers in financial services, and operations people, who get into work very early. You guys also appear to have the longest disclaimers. As the morning wore on, the disclaimers grew shorter - and very few afternoon posters had any kind of sig at all.

Redefining Web 2.0

Here then are the best. The standard of entries was so high there are several - let's see who we have in the Winners' Enclosure:


Web 2.0 is made of ...

...otter's tears.


Neil Armitage

Web 2.0 is ...

"These marvellous new clothes that only the emergent can see."

-Michael Jones

Web 2.0 is made of ...

a great big shit sandwich and we're all going to have to take a bite

- Richard Gaywood

Web 2.0 is made of ...

stardust; it is golden; it'll help us get back to the garden

- Shaun Rolph

Worthy winners, I hope you'll agree.

A gigantic thanks to everyone for taking part. The result was so heartening that we'll be challenging you to produce more Emergent Managementspeak with an Extra Special Competition next Friday. ®