Hello World! With the birth of my first child (hey Ari!) I have been given a new perspective on life in general. Following in the footsteps of established dady blogger Joe Jaffe, I would like to take these moments of reflection and share them (the professional ones at least) with you all.
It seems that every week dozens of new startups are launched, most of them to die a silent death within a year or two. Many have suggested that the current level of VC funding has put us in a "2.0 Bubble", but this is nothing more than a misunderstanding of the fundamental shift we are undergoing as a society.
Tim O'Reilly defined web 2.0 as, "the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform." Tim O'Reilly is a very smart guy, put in this case he missed the mark. Web 2.0 is not a business revolution, but a shift in consumer technology trends. Web 1.0 was about the technology. Web 2.0 is about the consumer. Today's thought leader is still part of "the establishment", but the power of the People First Revolution is quietly (and at times not so quietly) overtaking professional opinion and leadership.
Web 2.0 is no more about businesses supporting consumer behavior than the television viewing experience is "all about the advertising". Web 2.0 is the mass adoption of a dynamic lifestyle. Web 1.0 was the shift in user/consumer lifestyles from the analog to the digital. Web 2.0 is about far more than handing over the keys to the car, it's about breaking down walls, removing barriers, it's about choice. This shift will never go away. There will be no web 3.0, there can only be web 2.1, 2.2 etc.
Web 2.0 told us that consumers are no longer sheep to be herded, but people with dynamic and powerful voices. Web 2.0 empowered consumers to choose what they want, where they want it, and how they want it. Web 2.0 changed the dynamic of business. Web 2.0 is not about business, but about people. Web 2.0 and the technologies powering a revolution, creating the most fragmented audience oriented offering in the history of mankind. Web 2.0 brought all media to the consumer. Our lives have been changed. Our lives are increasingly going digital, live and always on, and they will never go back.
So no, we are not in a 2.0 bubble. The VC bubble we are currently experiencing is not a 2.0 bubble, but a bubble of irrational exuberance. Bubble 1.0 was brought on by irrational investment in businesses with dreams but without strategies, markets or consumers. Businesses failed and markets fell, all because the market looked at the web as a vast potential market, not as a collection of consumers.
Consumers have been empowered. Content now comes to the consumer how and when they want it. This is the 2.0 world. Investors may loose their shirts, but the consumer facing market 2.0 is not going away.
We established earlier that there will be no web 3.0. The coming years will never again see a digital revolution, rather they will see a digital evolution. This evolution has begun, we are already at the beginning of the future. The future will see a convergence of technologies and the creation and adoption of new technologies centering around consumer and societal behaviors. It is through this lens that we can understand why it is that web 2.0 is about more than the web, it is about society 2.0. The Social Web, Metaverses, iPhones, Joost, Second Life, BitTorrent and Technorati signal a movement of the web beyond borders, a digital life, a digital society without walls.
The iPhone didn't change the game, it changed consumer sentiment around technology. Web 1.0 was about more, web 2.0 is about the why and the how. Venture Capitalists may be funding more and more technologies, and many will fail, but the changes of web 2.0 will never go away. Much like democracy, once consumers experience and expect power, it cannot be taken away. The revolution has already taken place, and it cannot be bottled or contained. Predicting a 2.0 bubble suggests that we are nearing the end of an era. and this is in fact true. We are at the end of an era, an era of irrationality, an era of corporate control, an era of walls.
Everyday tens of thousands of college students and other harness technology to illegally pirate, distribute and download network television content. Thousands of consumers want to view your video content so badly that they have worked out a way to illegally share it with one another. This network is more efficient and powerful than any existent legal distribution channel. Networks respond to this demand by suing their loyal fans who so badly want to view the content that they break federal laws to access it. Web 3.0 will never happen, as web 2.0 already shifted our lives into the digital realm. Web 2.1 however, is going to be about breaking down our walls, changing our business models and embracing the consumer. I don't purport to know how, but I sure am going to enjoy being a part of the show.
Thoughts? Please feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading, and please tell your friends!