“Goodbye 2.0" – the end of the marketing hype 2.0 –
was the initial theme for a discussion at the DMS EXPO show & conference in Stuttgart, September 24th, 2013. The two opponents of the “Goodbye 2.0 revisited” panel discussion were Ulrich Kampffmeyer, managing director of PROJECT CONSULT, and Stefan Pfeiffer, Marketing Manager with IBM. The discussion was chaired by Professor Heiko Beier (moresophy).
The debate started one year ago with another presentation by Ulrich Kampffmeyer, which led to quite a lot of comments and discussions on the web (#goodbye2null). The Goodbye 2.0 live event was to answer the question, if we should say farewell to the age of “2.0”.
For the last ten years the expression “2.0” has been with us in a variety of forms. Eric Knorr coined the term “Web 2.0” in 2003 to describe what was then a fresh new interactive, collaborative type of Internet use. At the O’Reilly Web 2.0 conference in October 2004, Dale Dougherty and Craig Cline made Web 2.0 the guiding principle of the industry, quite independently of WCM Web Content Management. Previously there had just been the Web – the term Web 1.0 did not exist until Tim O’Reilly reverse-coined it in 2005.
Web 2.0 was about a shift in the way people use and think of the Internet, as an open space that contains the totality of human knowledge and which invites all to unlimited participation. The technical and functional elements had already been around; it was only the combination of these tools with a new vision of user interactivity that led to the ground-breaking success of Web 2.0. Large virtual communities promoted the idea, and “2.0” took on associations like “new,” “attractive,” “innovative,” “interactive,” “open” and “work in progress.” 2.0 became so attractive that the term started being used as a marketing ploy for other things. “Enterprise 2.0” was a logical extension, since it meant the implementation of Web 2.0 in companies. But things like “Office 2.0,” “Mobile 2.0” and even “Government 2.0” merely tried to tailgate on the popularity of 2.0, without really incorporating the deeper meaning of the original concept. This, plus the inevitable inanities like “Shampoo 2.0” or “Wife 2.0,” rapidly led to “2.0 inflation” as companies and jokesters tacked it onto words with abandon. The original idea behind Web 2.0 got lost in the noise. That was the first farewell to 2.0, and it cost Web 2.0 its positive associations. So – farewell to 2.0.
Meanwhile, over the years the technology and functionality that were the basis for Web 2.0 continued to evolve. Soon the focus was no longer on a website in a browser, but on mobile web use. This changed the use model, while also building on the basic idea that user should be able to participate in the web interactively, anytime and anywhere. Many of the disciples of Web 2.0 moved on to the next vision, the Semantic Web or Web 3.0. Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founding fathers of the Internet, drew the analogy. It was no longer just the information, but also its context, relationships and meta-information that gave it meaning. At the same time, the interaction of the people involved in the communication was no longer as much in the forefront. If you consider Web 3.0 as the successor to Web 2.0, this was a second farewell: Farewell to 2.0.
We are currently experiencing the third farewell, triggered by the revelations of whistle-blower Snowden. Actually we should really call what he did a “raising of awareness” because we all already suspected that the freedom and openness were superficial. With the data-gathering and manipulation, Web 2.0 lost its innocence. Where we once communicated without a care, today we carefully consider the future consequences of what we say online, not just in the collaborative web, but wherever we communicate or use information. So we are leaving the vision of 2.0 behind us as our attention is demanded by another set of digits – 1984. This calls for sober reflection, but not panic. The hands of time cannot be turned back, and we cannot turn our back on the possibilities afforded by modern communication. We have become the addicts of the Information Age. We cannot return to the idealistic early days of Web 2.0. Many of the effects of Web 2.0 are only now becoming evident, and not all of them are positive. Web 2.0 also gave rise to new economic powers, which use information to dominate and rule just as do governments. All these are reasons to say farewell to the idealistic notions of Web 2.0 – Farewell to 2.0.
In the future we may look back at “Web 2.0” as one of the early phases of the information society – a time of euphoria and excitement about new ways to communicate, interact and collaborate, before the limitations and caveats of a commercialized, controlled Internet became evident.