Calling it Web 2.0? I Guess it’s Happening.

It’s no secret that there is a lot of innovation happening right now in the online space. The problem is that there are a number of terms being thrown around right now labeling this trend, the most popular of which (I think) is Web 2.0. To be honest, I am not a big fan of this term. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly that I don’t like, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

When I first launched this blog, I posted about the transition from the “Reference Web” to the “Incremental Web,” as Topix.net’s Rich Skrenta has dubbed it. But I now realize the current developments are more than just that.

An article in this month’s Technology Review, “Social Machines” calls Web 2.0 “the transformation of the original web of static documents into a collection of pages that still look like documents but are actually interfaces to full-fledged computer platforms.” Wikipedia summarizes the term as “ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users.” (Apparently this innovation is “full-fledged,” regardless of what you name it.)

And it looks like the term “Web 2.0” is gaining popularity, as indicated by this Blogpulse chart. But some of those peaks are distorted by O’Reilly conference and Yahoo’s MyWeb 2.0 (un-coincidentally) sharing the same specific nomenclature as the generic term, further fueling my (and others’?) confusion about what we are really talking about here.

To me, the term, “Internet Operating System” better captures the essence of this ongoing change, which I believe was coined by O’Reilly three years ago, but just never caught on. I think it’s just because IOS doesn’t sound as sexy as Web 2.0.

But do either of those above terms really encapsulate ideas like the increased importance of vertical search, the rise of user-generated content, and the oncoming integration of the mobile platform into the open internet? I am not so sure. Somehow, those trends aren’t necessarily fully included. And that’s nothing to say about the huge force in how “traditional” search is still changing our world.

Yes, there’s a lot of disruptive change occurring in the digital media space, but I am just not sure what to call it. I guess I’ll have to stick with Web 2.0 for now.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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