Ramblings on Web 2.0 and its evolution

Deja Vu. All over again. As I watch the hub-bub over web 2.0, I feel like I'm watching a history channel movie about. Tons of "Web 2.0" sites in the works, getting funding, etc, most of which don't solve a problem, don't have a business model, or focus on too narrow of a space to create any value. Wow, apparently people don't learn from history.

Don't get me wrong, some great concepts in the Web 2.0 space, and I love innovation. Gmail. Flickr (even though I don't use it as it doesn't meet my needs). RightCart. But, here we go again, I keep reading how the world is changing. Those are alarms going off in my head.

Tagging. I like it. Makes many of the sites I use useful. At least it did. But it doesn't, and won't, scale. Sorry. Tagging is just another semantic name for directories, without any support for hierarchies (in fact I would rather have directories than tags). Just like Yahoo! had to evolve from a directory to a search service due to scaling, Web 2.0 services will have to figure. Already tagging is pretty useless in Technorati as a content discovery tool.

AJAX is here to stay, no question. About time, frankly. I think Ruby will make a big impact too. It's too slow, I know. So is Java. Or so it was said back in the mid-90s.

Side note: consider that it was Apple that finally commercialized digital music.

MySpace. What happens when the millions of teenagers decide MySpace is uncool? It will die as fast as Friendster did. I actually give MySpace another year, and in fall 2007 new registrations will stop and usage will decline in favor of another fad site. Actually, a company in the apparel space, which is an industry that understands fads, would do well to figure out how to tap the same trendiness.

I think the economics of the next generation of the web is going to be driven more by disruption caused by SalesForce.com (AppExchange) and Amazon.com (EC2, S3) than by site eyeballs (gee, where have I heard that before). Heck, I think SecondLife has a better chance of surviving Web 2.0 than most anyone.

I also like what Zopa is doing. A real business opportunity leveraging the Internet, much as PayPal has done for payments. And I do like all the work being done in the travel space to align flight arrangements with real user use cases rather than just "find a list of flights between point a and point b."

We'll see how it plays out. Maybe I'm clueless about this and showing my age and can't relate to this space. While we aren't to the level of irrational exhuberance in the Nasdaq that we saw in the late 90s (yours truly was caught up as well), it seems like we are following that path. I expect in 5 years some clear winners will emerge, with very few of today's darlings falling in that bucket.

Yet another post without a point. A free lunch to anyone who's read this far.

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