Cloud Street

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Not a fish at all

On the subject of broadcast vs broadband, Tom writes:
There's nothing rapid about this transition at all. It's been happening in the background for fifteen years. So let me rephrase it in ways that I understand. Shock revelation! A new set of technologies has started to displace older technologies and will continue to do so at a fairly slow rate over the next ten to thirty years!
My sense of these media organisations that use this argument of incredibly rapid technology change is that they're screaming that they're being pursued by a snail and yet they cannot get away! 'The snail! The snail!', they cry. 'How can we possibly escape!?'. The problem being that the snail's been moving closer for the last twenty years one way or another and they just weren't paying attention.

In comments, Will writes:
If one person is claiming that the world is moving fairly slowly, and has some sound advice on what this might look like (as you are doing here), and another person is claiming that the world is moving extraordinarily quickly, but offers some quickfire measures through which to cope with this, the sense of emergency will win purely because it is present. From here, it almost becomes *risky* not to then adopt the quickfire measures suggested by the second person. Panic becomes a safer strategy than calmness. Which explains management consultancy...

and John asks:
does web2.0 count as a snail too?

But Web 2.0 is not a snail.

Web 2.0 is the people pointing and shouting 'The snail! The snail!'

Web 2.0 is also the people who overhear the first group and join in, shouting 'The whale! The whale!' and pointing vaguely upwards and towards the nearest ocean.

Web 2.0 is also the people who hear the second group and panic about the approaching whale, or is it a land-whale? what is a land-whale anyway? whatever it is, there's one coming and we'd all better... well, we'd better tell someone about it, anyway - I mean, there's a land-whale coming, how often does something like that happen?

Web 2.0 is also the people who hear the third group and improvise a land-whale parade, with floats and dancers and drummers and at its centre a giant paper land-whale held aloft by fifteen people, because, I don't know, but everyone was talking about land-whales and it just seemed like a good idea, you know?

And Web 2.0 is the people who come along halfway through the parade and sell the roadside spectators standing-room tickets.


  • The term that Davies has come up with for the downside of universal web connection is "digital exuberance". It has a strong whiff of Alan Greenspan's straitlaced thinking about how to manage the American economy. Is Davies, I ask him, a digital conservative?"

    Write the book. One thing I want to add, Mr Davies, is that it seems that all these gadgets have not added one iota of intelligence to the world. I mean, sure a person can have a cellphone, a PDA, a laptop, a computer at work, great search engines and etc, blogs and whatnot, but has anyone really become any more intelligent? I fear not. The world remains the same dumb place of ignorance fear and superstition is has been for over 10,000 years and more.....the technology just makes it easier and more comfortable to be stupid, to be dumb, to be numbed by it all. I protest!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/5/06 08:46  

  • Absolutely brilliant.

    I'd thought I'd read all the possible variations of definitions on Web 2.0 that there could be.

    This is by far, one of the most insightful. I have a master's thesis I'm working on that covers "Web 2.0 Business Models -- An Oxymoron". This might be a good fit.

    By Anonymous Dharmesh Shah, at 12/5/06 18:00  

  • Spot on. And what of the marketers behind anything Web 2.0? They are the scalpers, creating the frenzy, selling overpriced tickets that may or may not even be related to the 2.0 show. But they are definitely flooding the market with expensive tickets, and unfortunately people are buying them.

    By Blogger Brian Solis, at 12/5/06 19:29  

  • Nope. Sorry to spoil the love-in here, but I think Web 2.0 is a useful concept.

    I'll agree that there isn't any firm set of features that distinguish it from v1.9, but I'd suggest that - like the first sight of the www, the way that technologies - whether they are blogs, wikis, open source components, RSS, social networking sites and so on - are having an impact on the economy. People are having to change the way they assert intellectual property. They are having to negotiate with their audiences in new ways - ones that acknowledge a resistance to advertising and a preference for peer-review.

    They are much more evidence based and much more vulnerable to criticism.

    They also have their own aesthetics and represent a new way of looking at communication - one that the large bulk of internet users (and self-styled gurus) wouldn't have predicted.

    While all of these technologies and usages have been around for some time, they are now being taken up more widely, and they have the critical mass of users to make them viable. And the way they are used (and the platforms they are used on) always surprises those that did the initial building of them.

    As someone who is working in web development and dealing with customers, I'm finding that clients are receptive to solutions and suggestions that they would have regarded as bonkers two years ago. And they are starting to ask for the kind of things that developers used to wish they would ask for.

    Maybe they're just tripping, and seeing snails where there aren't any. But I don't think so.

    By Blogger Paulie, at 16/5/06 18:33  

  • Hi Paulie - small Web.

    I don't think you're disagreeing as much as you seem to think you are. To unpack my image, I'm suggesting that Web 2.0 is a combination of
    (a) real, significant and continuing changes in technology
    (b) over-reaction to (a), wrongly perceived as something which is going to change everything any time now
    (c) rumour, speculation and hype about the nature, benefits, threats etc of (a) - which is misperceived (thanks to (b)) but is still a real phenomenon
    (d) people building stuff on the basis of (c) - which, again, has had real effects: it's resulted in some extremely useful and nice-looking stuff getting built which wouldn't have been built otherwise
    (e) people cashing in on (d)

    I'm not saying there's nothing to it but hype, self-delusion and cashing-in. What makes it such a weird phenomenon is that the hype, delusion and cashing-in exist alongside the real changes and the new apps and services.

    By Blogger Phil, at 17/5/06 11:02  

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