Christian Montoya

Web 2.0 I$ About Money

"Web 1.0 was commerce. Web 2.0 is people…"

– Ross Mayfield, the CEO of SocialText, a company that sells collaborative wiki software to enterprises and that is hosting the Web 2.0 wiki. Source

I've got one thing to say, one thing only… and I already said it. Web 2.0 is about money. Web 1.0 was about money too. Before that, the world of computing without the Internet was also about money. TV was, radio was, print media was, and all of them still are, about money. No matter how noble the other reasons for anything anyone ever did in any industry, it was first and foremost about money. The fact that I can upload videos and share links and blog for free does not change the motive of the companies selling their services. No amount of overgrown hippies and hype-filled buzzword talk should convince you otherwise.

The fact is, Web 2.0 ain't nuttin' but a thang. Let me sum it up for you. The big change some call "Web 2.0" amounts to some guys figuring out how to do the following:

var moneyMachine = new XMLHttpRequest();

So what if there's new technology? So what if companies offer user participation? So what if syndicated content is the new force in media? That doesn't mean it's about people. The people play a part, but it's more like this:

A farmer shearing a sheep. The farmer is a web 2.0 company, the sheep is the user, the wool is the user generated content. Money is the motive.

Just to expound my point, I think these images make it obvious:

Digg.com ads Flickr.com ads Gmail.com ads Wikipedia.org donation section Youtube.com ads

So what?

Despite all this, here's the clincher: Web 2.0 is about money, and that's fine with me. I could go on and on about philosophy and economics, but I think one line sums it up: "ya gotta pay the bills." You see, I admire honesty, and if any software pioneer took a moment to stop flapping their marketing holes and just tell me, straight to my face, with a smile,

"I have a new product, and I'm going to use it to milk every dollar I can get"

… then I would shake their hand and say, "Go right ahead." It's work. Skills to pay the bills.

What bothers me is when people somehow buy-in to the hype and claim that "Web 2.0" really is about people. The people's revolution and stuff like that. Hippie talk. Let me offer a more levelheaded idea here, and then we can forget that I ever used the term Web 2.0 in any seriousness:

  • Developers make new products (nothing new)
  • The best products are great for users (also nothing new)
  • Successful companies make money (see a trend?)

It's not just reality, it's the American Dream ;)

Now that I've empowered you with a better understanding of what Web 2.0 is really all about, go forth and be sheared!

Update May 31: Yehaa, nothing like a current event to prove my point: O'Reilly sets out to trademark the term "Web 2.0".

Thank you for reading • Published on May 15th, 2006 • Please take a moment to share this with your friends

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