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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977


Web 2.0 Cultists

Lately I’ve found myself having the following “discussion” (I prefer “heated debate” myself) regarding ‘Web 2.0’, usually with someone who has consumed a certain amount of Web 2.0 Kool-aid:

cultist: “I want to make sure we have enough Web 2.0 features in our application.”

me: “‘Web 2.0’ is just a term, and doesn’t signify anything important in and of itself. Sure, it’s a way of easily defining things like improved usability, user-centric design, friendly applications, and other tangible concepts that developers and designers can and should take to heart, but it only refers to those practices because we’ve decided it should, as a community.”

cultist: “But ‘Web 2.0’ is such a simple way of saying all those things! It makes it much easier for people to understand what they should be doing!”

me: “Just like ‘AJAX’ makes it easier for people to lump ‘superfluous JavaScript visual effects’ under the same terminology as ‘communicating with the server without a reload’? ‘AJAX’ is not synonymous with ‘animation’, people! It’s important to know the difference as web developers and designers; it’s up to us to be the responsible party.”

cultist: “But people don’t understand those things if there isn’t a simple term to describe them!”

me: “Then perhaps they shouldn’t be using something they don’t understand.”

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Friday, April 6th, 2007.


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24 comments on “Web 2.0 Cultists”

  1. Posted by Jina Bolton on Friday, April 6th, 2007.

    I added some web2.0 features in my laundry the other day and my clothes came out super soft. They even smell great!

  2. Posted by Bryan Veloso on Friday, April 6th, 2007.

    Web2.0 helps me dance the dance dance better.

  3. Posted by Shawn Grimes on Friday, April 6th, 2007.

    That’s crazy, everyone knows that Web 2.0 is just big fonts and bright colors and Ajax makes things slide in/out/away/fade et cetera, gosh. See I’m down!

    Ajax also helps me tie my shoes better.

  4. Posted by Luke Dorny on Friday, April 6th, 2007.

    i installed asynchronous turn signals and an extensible blow-off valve on the turbo. My car drives without refuelling…

  5. Posted by Luke Seeley on Friday, April 6th, 2007.

    You have no idea how many times I’ve had people ask me to “Ajax-it-up!”. I totally agree with the ridiculous equivalence people draw between Ajax and the scriptaculous effects.

  6. Posted by Wade Winningham on Friday, April 6th, 2007.

    Sounds like a Dilbert cartoon.

  7. Posted by web on Saturday, April 7th, 2007.

    I’m drinking the Kool-aid, but I find myself having to defend the idea that not every page request should be tucked away in javascript.

    I’m all for AJAX being baked into a site when it enhances the user experience somehow but it just seems sometimes that nobody wants to be the last one invited to the “I just overcomplicated my site and increased restrictions for almost no gain” party.

    When you have a hammer — everything looks like a nail I guess.

    However, it does keep my floors clean.

  8. Posted by Francois on Saturday, April 7th, 2007.

    Web2? I thought it was those ww2 domains!?! I hear Vista has Ajax animated cursors… way cool!

  9. Posted by Dan Bowling on Saturday, April 7th, 2007.

    The whole buzz around Web 2.0 seems to exemplify the mistake clients often make when talking to a designer/developer: they focus on a buzz, rather than real features. Sure, much of the 2.0 craze is about improving the user experience, but it is our job to educate clients that all the 2.0 things are mere afterthoughts of the actual product, and not a selling point in themselves.

  10. Posted by Rob Goodlatte on Monday, April 9th, 2007.

    It’s amazing how many client briefs I get asking for “Web 2.0”-style designs. I’ve even gotten requests for “Web 2.0 Compliance”, or adoption of “Web 2.0 standards”.

    Tim O’Reilly and Mike Arrington need to stop spreading the term – it really sets us all back.

  11. Posted by Ryan Brill on Monday, April 9th, 2007.

    I prefer the term “Web 2.blow”, but whatever…

  12. Posted by Sera on Monday, April 9th, 2007.

    Web 2.0 wordpress themes usually seem to be poorly put together.
    I guess I’m just too old-school.. :P Like 1999.

  13. Posted by Stephane Deschamps on Tuesday, April 10th, 2007.

    Oh what a relief to know that I’m not the only one having to put up with this crap.

    Every day a new manager comes and says “where can I put Web2.0 in my website?”.

    Those people are crazy, they mistake the buzzword for the state of things.

  14. Posted by Jason Calleiro on Thursday, April 12th, 2007.

    client of the month award goes to… “Now what features can we put in this to take it to web 3.0?”

  15. Posted by Patrick Haney on Thursday, April 12th, 2007.


    (See what I did right there? I didn’t make any argument after your argument and I said “touché” anyway. Like that Mac ad. Crazy PCs…)

    I don’t like using “Web 2.0” because generally it doesn’t mean anything specific. It’s like making up your own word and giving it meaning that is only relevant to what you’re talking about.

    How about we just say “let’s make this site more user friendly and appealing to the eye?”

  16. Posted by mike on Monday, April 23rd, 2007.

    me: “Then perhaps they shouldn’t be using something they don’t understand.”

    That to me sounds exactly like “Don’t come to this country if you can’t speak the language.”

    How about we spend more time talking about how to understand it, than berating those that don’t.

  17. Posted by Dan Rubin on Monday, April 23rd, 2007.

    @Mike: I think that’s an extreme view–I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t dive in and try to learn if they don’t understand what’s involved. Using your example, the problem is more like someone thinking they know Chinese when they are actually speaking Japanese, and then telling everyone how wonderful the Chinese language is and that we should all learn it (not saying we shouldn’t, but you get the idea :)

    The overall point is that it is the responsibility of a professional in this industry to have an understanding of the technology and terminology, and to encourage education of clients and within the field.

  18. Posted by Matthew on Friday, May 11th, 2007.

    I had to write an essay on Web 2.0 and I am more confused than ever.

  19. Posted by Renato Targa on Saturday, May 19th, 2007.

    And to the Chinese/Japanese language analogy of your response to Mike: Bravissimo!!

  20. Posted by B on Thursday, July 12th, 2007.

    This whole web 2.0 story reminds me of the 3G mobile phone advertising campaign that ran in my home country, basically after this advert appeared on tv everyone thought 3G was being able to video conference over your mobile :?

    Selling cars when you are selling petrol because cars are “kewl”

  21. Posted by SEO Carly on Friday, July 27th, 2007.

    That’s ok, someone offered to sell me a Web 2.0 domain name the other day. So i had to ask, “Waht makes the domain a Web 2.0 domain?”

    Answer: Because it’s short and not spelt right or means nothing like Digg, Flickr, Squidoo etc.

    Right.. Ok.. I guess problems evolve just like stupid people.

  22. Posted by BobbR on Wednesday, August 15th, 2007.

    It’s about the Web 2.0 Validator:


  23. Posted by David Kypuros on Thursday, August 16th, 2007.

    very insightful.

    I think a lot of this stems from folks who don’t hand code AJAX, but find ways to use it in web apps. This leads to the “AJAX = Drag/Drap” mentality.

    I’m not being a snob, I don’t to hand code AJAX myself. For people who are hand coders, I could see how it would severely piss them off.