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Web 2.0 – Your Technology is in my Experience

It’s interesting seeing the web 2.0 discussion bifurcate. The technologists seem to feel that “Web 2.0 is about making websites machine readable so that content can squirt seamlessly between unrelated sites. Technologies like RSS, RESTian APIs, and XHTML/CSS are the core of Web 2.0.”

The designers are waking up and saying, “No! It’s about the improved experience!”

Considering the technologists got there first, this is one of the reasons that, in the back of my mind, I’ve been nervous talking about “Web 2.0” when I refer to the trends we’re seeing. My initial effort to label it something else (“designing for the sandbox“) understandably didn’t take root (it’s too opaque, and requires a concerted marketing effort).

It feels like the phrase “Web 2.0” is definitely here to stay. And with it, the challenge for designers to make technologists understand that Web 2.0 isn’t interesting because it makes “the Internet useful for computers,” (as Jeff Bezos said), but it’s interesting because it further empowers *users*. This is the underlying theme to Josh Porter and Richard McManus’ recent “Web 2.0 for Designers” piece.

And I think a way for the technologists and designers to hold hands is to go a level deeper and realize their shared philosophies. In June I wrote an essay for the Adaptive Path site on relinquishing control (and giving users the power to dictate their experiences). A month later, DeWitt Clinton, a software developer, wrote, “Web 2.0 is giving up control.” He then gets jiggy with acronyms (REST, SOAP, API, etc.) but, truly, we’re talking about the same thing.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming Web 2.0 conference as an opportunity to explicitly bridge these worlds. The challenge then being, how do we spread the word?

  1. Hi Peter,

    This is an extremely insightful post. I’ve been talking and thinking about the same basic concept but without the added knowledge you have about the technology and the experience side but in broader terms. Here’s what I would add to your post, taking it in the business and design context, the Internet has matured into an industrial platform for business es in it’s own right, i.e. you can now have a virtual business with revenue generation and no “brick and mortar” required. However, for those us who are neither the technologists nor a designer in this space (experiences, virtual and product interfaces) and of a certain age, we don’t understand the full revenue generation and experience/brand building potential of cyberspace (to paint it in broad strokes and generalizations). So for regular companies, who still require a virtual presence, either on our products or on our websites, the current revenue generation business models are based on derivations of what we know and love in strategy cases taught at b school – old school business models. I believe that the new platform has matured to the point that there are revenue generation touchpoints to not only build your brand but to build your business that are waiting to be discovered and then translated for companies that aren’t traditionally full of techies or designers, nor in the Bay Area. That is the next step forward and it’s based on exactly what you have said in your post. Thank you!


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