"Web 2.0 Is Toxic and Needs to Die"

Andy Budd and Jeremy Keith, of the U.K.-based superstar Web-design firm Clearleft, led a rousing and rather subversive seminar at SXSW Interactive this morning (which included the buzzword bingo game pictured at left—I didn't win) called "Bluffing Your Way through Web 2.0." The point was basically to make fun of the widespread abuse of the term "Web 2.0." What the hell does that mean, exactly?

The term connotes different things to different people, depending on whether they work in the areas of business, design or development. To business people, it means the functionality of communities: getting users to rate stuff and comment; creating cool apps that you can sell to Google for millions of dollars. To designers, it means a certain style defined by bright colors, reflective surfaces, "lickable," candy-like logos, rounded corners and modern fonts. To developers it means API mashups and AJAX.

Budd and Keith proposed abandoning the term altogether, since, though it was useful when it was introduced two years ago, it's actually becoming a hindrance to design firms like Clearleft, who now have to field requests for proposals that say things like "we want a total Web 2.0 site that operates according to all the Web 2.0 design standards." (There are standards for Web 2.0? Who knew?)

More useful is to think of Web 2.0 in terms of social media. In fact, maybe we should all just start saying "social media" instead, since the main point is to involve the community and provide a platform for user participation.

My favorite takeaway from the panel—apart from the "toxic and needs to die" statement, from Mr. Budd—came from the development angle, however: "Don't ever learn any code if you can help it," Keith suggested. "Just copy someone else's. That's Web 2.0." —Megan Miller