It's been over a week since the last "What is Web 2.0" meme made the rounds, which on the internet is a long time. So, it's due for a minor revision (it is a perpetual beta, after all).
WEB 2.01 RELEASE NOTES
- REVISION 1: It's about providing something useful, not something trendy.
- REVISION 2: It's a mistake to rule out the desktop.
- REVISION 3: Companies need to stop saying "mine" about stuff they have no right to own.
REVISION 1: It's about providing something useful, not something trendy.
Pretty much every definition of Web 2.0 that I've seen talks about specific technologies such as Ajax. Ajax is cool, but Web 2.0 isn't about the latest trend in technology - it's about "harnessing collective intelligence," involving customers in product development and taking advantage of the web's distributed nature. If you can do that with Flash or any other "untrendy" technology, that's great (unless they're geeks, your customers won't care as long as it works).
REVISION 2: It's a mistake to rule out the desktop.
I rely on a number of excellent web apps and I expect to see the web continue to become the dominant application platform, but I believe reports of the death of desktop apps are greatly exaggerated. The future of the web isn't entirely web-based.
Over the next few years we'll see a number of new desktop apps which take advantage of the web as a platform, providing many of the benefits of a web app with the speed, usability and (in some cases) privacy of a desktop app. The next version of FeedDemon, for example, ties into an online API, and it enables customers to choose which data lives "out there" on the web and which stays private to their computer. We're going to see much more of this.
As an aside, keep in mind how expensive it is to manage a web application. Think of all the great shareware programs you've used that were developed by one person, and then consider how that one person would handle the server costs of a popular web app. As it stands, the investment required to maintain a web-based app is greater (often far greater) than it is for a downloadable shareware product.
REVISION 3: Companies need to stop saying "mine" about stuff they have no right to own.
Everyone has the right to make a buck, but companies need to respect the fact that customers own their data. Companies whose business models require undermining fair use will find themselves undermined in return.
(OK, so that last one was pretty much spelled out in the original Web 2.0 discussion - I figured I'd just make it explicit.)