Talking about Web 2.0 with Designers

I now have veritable proof that Web 2.0 as a term is working to describe the changing web. How do I know? People told me so. Last night I led a talk for the Macromedia Boston Users Group called “Web 2.0 Interfaces, the Future of Design”. I used Keynote for the first time, and I […]

I now have veritable proof that Web 2.0 as a term is working to describe the changing web. How do I know? People told me so.

Last night I led a talk for the Macromedia Boston Users Group called “Web 2.0 Interfaces, the Future of Design”. I used Keynote for the first time, and I can definitely say that it’s better than Powerpoint. Here is my slide deck:

Web 2.0 Interfaces, the Future of Design (1.8MB pdf)

You’ll notice that I don’t put all that much text on my slides. This is taking a page from Seth Godin’s playbook, in an attempt to show one thing and then tell a story about it. I find that if I have my story on the slides then I become too dependent on them. Sometimes I even start to read them. This way forces me to have it in my head.

Going into the talk I was slightly nervous for several reasons:

  • I hadn’t given this talk before, so I had no idea what to expect.
  • I was at MIT, which can be intimidating because everyone is so intelligent. Not everyone was an MIT student, but just being there seems to make everyone smart.
  • I was using the term “Web 2.0″ in the title of my talk. Lots of folks think Web 2.0 is just a buzzword.

The talk, however, went very well. I’m very happy with the discussion we had. I learned a lot. At the beginning of the talk I asked folks what they thought of the term Web 2.0, and I got two answers: one was that it was “web services, but open”, and the other was an explanation of remixing. Both of these ideas are definitely in the spirit of Web 2.0. Most of the other folks said that it meant little to them. So I had some explaining to do…

The biggest surprise of the night for me was our discussion about Del.icio.us. People love this service, and they seem to love talking about the implications of folksonomies and architectures of participation. We could have discussed Del.icio.us for the entire 2 hours easily.

Another thing that surprised me was how interested people were in the business side of Web 2.0. They wanted to know really specific details about how Google is making money with Google Maps, and if Paul Rademacher is seeing any of it with Housingmaps.com, and if people who use the Flickr API will have to pay for it.

In response to these questions, we got to talking about how services are slowly beginning to charge for access. Someone brought up that Craigslist has been charging for placement of job ads in New York and L.A. Here’s a report of it happening as early as a year ago. This surprised all of us who didn’t know.

Also, a month or two back I wrote Interface Remixers will Pay for Privilege of APIs, picking up a meme from Jonathan Boutelle concerning Stewart Butterfield’s comments about access to Flickr’s API at a BayCHI meeting. Stewart came and responded, saying that Flickr is about openness and they want developers to use their API, but they also want to make sure that it’s not being used for evil. In short, you need to obtain an API key before you can use it.

I shared this with the group, and the first comments were slightly cynical. A common response was: “Yeah, but now they’re owned by Yahoo they’ll be charging soon”. This seemed to be the general feeling about that topic.

I talked quickly about Ajax, and was surprised to learn that there is quite an effort going on to open-source parts of Macromedia Flash. I quickly got in over my head by saying that the major problem with Flash is that it is proprietary and suggesting that Ajax is more attractive because it is built on open standards. Some agreed, some disagreed. We had a good discussion about that.

We talked about Skype being sold for billions of dollars to eBay, and everyone who hadn’t heard that gasped in amazement.

We talked about movie ratings and the architecture of participation, like my post yesterday, and everyone got involved. If there is one topic on which everyone has something to say, it’s movies. Talking about movie recommendations was really fun!

So, at the end of the talk I re-asked the question about what Web 2.0 means to people. I felt like there was a general consensus: that Web 2.0 is a big deal, especially the architecture of participation. We’re turning to new methods to find value for us, and those methods are systems built upon the notion that users add value.

All in all, I was extremely happy with the talk. I think Web 2.0 as an idea is working even for folks who don’t blog about it every day!

Published: September 15th, 2005

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