Web 2.0 Heroes: Some Comments

 Web 2.0 Heroes

I recently read the book “Web 2.0 Heroes: Interviews with 20 Web 2.0 Influencers and it was interesting from several perspectives. The book’s format was Q&A with several luminaries who are shaping the user experiences in the internet today. From behemoths like Ebay, Microsoft, Skype, Adobe, IBM, Sun to startups like Ning, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Meebo, Zoho etc. The questions were mostly about trying to define the term Web 2.0 as well as about other terms like Semantic Web, SAAS, S+S etc.

The first interesting thing was the absence of Google or Yahoo. Well, maybe they are not big into the whole Web thing. 🙂

The second interesting thing was this frequent mention of the fact that Web 2.0 was about giving more control back to the users.

For example, the guy from Bloglines says:

Greater user control is really one of the key things for Web 2.0. The users are now in control, whereas in the past they were not in control. It was really what big companies wanted to broad-
cast or distribute, whether it is a broadcast via a media model or via an old software model. Now, you can modify and take apart your application. Kind of like the modders who souped up their Toyotas, jack them up, or do whatever. A lot of people are doing that. That is one of the really cool things in how the users take control of their user experience.

How could that be? Allowing programmable APIs access does not equate to greater user control. Yes, it means greater developer control, but for the normal user, the programmable API doesn’t change his experience that much. I also don’t understand when he mentions that a lot of people are doing that. Just because something is programmable doesn’t mean many are doing it. It is like saying that just because the COM controls and widgets on your PC are programmable, a lot of people are actually going ahead and using them in new, unexpected ways. In my opinion, user control equates to greater control on stuff that actually matters, like control on the user data, how it is shared, how it is made available, who is looking at it etc.

The same kind of comment from Zoho

But what we really like is the movement that’s happening at the grassroots level where control is given back to the users. That is the key thing and if you want to have a term, then yes, that is probably where Web2.0 is a good marketing term.

and from Adobe

We’re taking advan-tage a lot of that infrastructure in the trends that have defined Web 2.0, which is user-generated content; content is king, giving the users a lot of control, opening up APIs, opening up feeds and being able to bring lots of different content types together to create new experiences.

Maybe the definition of user control is different for these folks, but my perception has been that the whole new software paradigm that is being rolled out is ultimately lesser user control. With all these ways of now combining information, someone can combine your LinkedIn Profile and all your pictures and comments(and rants) from MySpace, Facebook and the Web into a single page for an employer to look at before offering a job. Thats a scary thought.

One Response

  1. Priya says:

    I was, like you, surprised at how these guys from Bloglines have used “user control” in their quotes here. May be they are in fact just talking about giving the developers or the more tech-savvy users to develop applications using the APIs. Or perhaps, they meant to say Web 2.0 allows more “user participation” or allows users to share or contribute information better than previous technologies.

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