We don't "get it"

One of the first posts that came out of Sessions was Joel Spolsky’s comment on architecture astronauts.

Joel said.

I'm starting to see a new round of pure architecture astronautics: meaningless stringing-together of new economy buzzwords in an attempt to sound erudite.

That's one sure tip-off to the fact that you're being assaulted by an Architecture Astronaut: the incredible amount of bombast; the heroic, utopian grandiloquence; the boastfulness; the complete lack of reality. And people buy it! The business press goes wild!.

Now it's tagging and folksonomies and syndication, and we're all supposed to fall in line with the theory that cool new stuff like Google Maps, Wikipedia, and Del.icio.us are somehow bigger than the sum of their parts. The Long Tail! Attention Economy! Creative Commons! Peer production! Web 2.0!

The term Web 2.0 particularly bugs me. It's not a real concept. It has no meaning. It's a big, vague, nebulous cloud of pure architectural nothingness. When people use the term Web 2.0, I always feel a little bit stupider for the rest of the day….. The very 2.0 in Web 2.0 seems carefully crafted as a way to denigrate the clueless "Web 1.0" idiots, poor children, in the same way the first round of teenagers starting dotcoms in 1999 dissed their elders with the decade's mantra, "They just don't get it!"

We agree with Joel that a lot of the discussion about Web 2.0 takes place at a level of abstraction that makes it hard to extract actionable ideas. We also agree that there are folks out there who talk enthusiastically about the transformative power of Web 2.0 without a lot of critical analysis on where, why and how that transformation will occur.

Joel goes on to suggest that it is not productive to talk or think about the implications of information technology at an architectural level. Here, we disagree. We believe that it is possible to talk about technology at that level and that if that work is combined with critical analysis; we believe the output can be very useful.

Joel’s critique of the use of the term Web 2.0 is valid. We agree that the term is often used as an overly simplified shorthand for a number of complex ideas. We share Joel’s concern that the term is sometimes used to separate those who “get it” from those who don’t. This seems, to us, to be a useless distinction. Worse, it limits the input from people whose views we need if we are going to better understand the changes we are likely to encounter over the next few years.

We posed a number of questions in our Sessions Agenda . We learned a lot during the event but, we still can’t answer most of these questions definitively. If we could, we might claim to “get it” But we can’t, so we should raise our hand and say explicitly we don’t “get it”. When we do we’ll let you know.
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