The problem with Web 2.0
For all the gushing I've done over Web 2.0 in the past, I'm really starting to sour on it. It's kind of like going to Disney World: it sounds like a lot of fun, but when you get there you realize that it's overpriced, the food sucks, you have to wait forever to ride anything, and half the stuff doesn't actually work. (I just got back from Disney World in case you're wondering where that analogy came from :)
Anway, here are my major gripes with Web 2.0:
- Lack of standards: This is slooooooowly changing, but as of right now there's no coherent standard for things such as votes, reviews, relationships, and all the other Web 2.0 goodness. Microformats will, I believe, eventually solve this problem.
- Users don't own their information: Web 2.0 companies have a bad habit of holding user data hostage. MySpace is THE worst offender. I don't think this way of thinking is healthy for business--once the general public catches up with early adopters and starts seeing the advantages of re-using their data, they're going to get pissed and leave the companies that don't let them control their own data. I actually believe that user data will eventually migrate to online storage services such as S3, GDrive, Live Drive, and OmniDrive, and software companies such as will merely serve as the front end. Heck, Google basically already is.
- The experience is way too fragmented: This applies more to Software as a Service (SaaS), but Web 2.0 companies are the worst offenders here. I don't know about everyone else, but I don't want one app for Word processing, another app for blogging, another app for email, another app for spreadsheets, another app for communicating with my friends, another one for tagging stuff, another for photo sharing, another one for tracking my online apps, another for tracking my passwords, ad nauseum. This wasn't a problem when I used desktop software. Eventually, (and I've already reached this point) users are not going to want to sign up for yet another site, just because it's way too much to keep track of and manage.
- People who have no vision: O'Reilly trademarking the term "Web 2.0" is a perfect example of this. Until we figure out a way to deal with squatters and the like, this is going to present a huge problem. We really need to overhaul the entire Intellectual Property scheme at some point.
I'll bet "Web 2.0" makes it into the "tired" or "expired" column in Wired sometime in the next year ;)