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Is it time for web 2.0 to grow up?

For a while now I’ve been uncomfortable with the direction of much of the stuff referred to as web 2.0. It seems to be full of amusing trifles that don’t offer any real substance in terms of sustainable business models.

For example, while I dearly love Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and the hyperconnectivity and community they enable, I still have no idea how they plan to make any money to sustain these services.

Late last year Steve Rubel was stating very strongly that Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid (a view that I was in sympathy with at the time). And as he said: “I am sorry to be a party pooper on conventional wisdom, really. But I miss the days of 2004 when the class that includes Flickr, and others started. They really were about changing the web, not making a quick buck (they did so only because they added value).”

This idea of adding value, or at least of being self sustaining is important.  Especially if we want to transfer the genuinely revolutionary web 2.0-ish ways of building systems and new cultural approaches to software into the enterprise.  Thus we need to become serious agents of change.  

A good example of this is the fact that waterfall software development gives us failure upon failure and we need to find a better way to deliver enterprise software.  Putting software built using rubbish processes into the cloud is not the right answer.  Instead we need to take the cooperative and iterative development methods we’ve used to build cool web 2.0 stuff and show that agile and scrum are scalable and real solutions for the enterprise. 

One of the reasons we have so many user friendly, functionally rich web 2.0 applications is that they were not built the same way we’ve always done software.  One of the most revolutionary things we can do is transfer this kind of capability into the enterprise. This will enable us to build better systems that are not just for fun but which are better for people and for business.

0 thoughts on “Is it time for web 2.0 to grow up?”

  1. Stuart French

    Bravo, I couldn’t agree more.As a victim of a project that has really struggled under the old waterfall method as business requirements continually changed, I see more agile development as the way to go and yes, this is a key take-away form Web 2.0.We have made software development more efficient through the separation of labour, however now it is quite hard to find anybody that can take a holistic view the software development process. The concept of a programmer being totally spec driven unaware of the project requirements still stuns me to the soul.

  2. walteradamson

    Kate,As an IT guy, as long as 20 years ago I used warn people not to believe that the phased process, the waterfall process, was an intrinsic part of developing and delivering software. That process is a reflection of the failure of software development platforms to be able to deliver what you are suggesting in a new way.Of course the process itself has built a huge industry, which has strong self-interest. It’s like the “innovation industry” we have which is about its own self-interest and not about actually delivering wealth in output.Of course we can’t break the back of the phase-model without the right software, and its taken far longer coming than I ever imagined, but your comments are about breaking the old paradigm and I agree with that. Which is not to say that I agree that users are remotely close to developing proper enterprise social networks without the right tools. And those tools require very clever IT people behind them still.Walter