Charlie O'Donnell postulated that the greatest trick Web 2.0 ever pulled was convincing the world it ever existed. He starts out with this quote:
Most of the services that inspired such categorization never consciously decided to be or aspired to be “Web 2.0 companies”. That's usually the way evolution happens–natural selection and environmental adoption spits up a set of traits that get adopted through natural selection and some anthropologist comes along later and throws a taxonomy on it–drawing lines across the gray areas almost making them seem intentional.
I have stated before that I believe Web 2.0 to be an Interactive Theory on how to build a web application. We have spent the last few years experimenting with those gray areas and figuring out where those lines should be drawn. I also believe the Web 2.0 Era existed. It was when the world was convinced that there was such as thing as a Web 2.0 Business.
He goes on to say that it is unfair to categorize many companies across industries as Web 2.0 just because they subscribe to the same Interactive Theory or best practices. That's the equivalent of saying its unfair to call two Baroque composers Baroque, or two Modern Architects , Modern, or two Impressionist Painters, Impressionist. Web 2.0 was a defined period i
n both Interactive Design and Business Theory, just as the previous examples were defined periods in their respective disciplines.
An architect creates a Modern building because that is what's in vogue at the time. That's what people want, and that's what the customer will pay for.
Internet startups applied Web 2.0 theory to their projects for the same reason. That's what a segment of end-users wanted, and more importantly, that's what the VCs were willing to shell out money for. Startups very deliberately rode the 2.0 wave because a lot of 'visionaries' were saying that they were the next generation of BUSINSSES. The 'visionaries' were so convinced of this they forewent business models. The thinking went, 'Not having a plan worked for Google, so it must work for these startups too.'
Out of the investor’s belief that this was true, and out of the entrepreneurs desire to cash in that Google lottery ticket, the Web 2.0 Era was born. The Era was the Interactive Theory + the belief that any website employing Web 2.0 theory must be a business.
The Web 2.0 Era is more or less over. Applying an interactive theory does not equal revenue as so many seemed to believe. Investors are already backing off investments unless the entrepreneur can provide a clear path to revenue.
The interactive theories that we learned in the Web 2.0 Era will live on long after the era is over, just as techniques from one era in architecture are used to build on the next. What is over is Web 2.0 experiments, that very deliberately catered to the Web 2.0 Era investors, being thought of as businesses.