Were you prepared for Web 2.0? Wait, were you prepared for Web 1.0? What are we talking about?
Sometime back in 2004 (wow, seven years ago!), the term “Web 2.0” was coined to reflect some fundamental changes in user and website behaviour. Websites were becoming more dynamic, more responsive, more application or tool-like. Where “visitors” would once come to a site to “read” content, a new generation of sites were “creating communities”, built by “users”, sharing and commenting and dialoguing. While traffic had been driven by search engines and bookmarks, now traffic was coming from friends’ recommendations, other blog links, Facebook likes and tweets.
What gets overlooked about Web 2.0, though, is that it isn’t a replacement for 1.0, but an enhancement. We could think of it as the second floor of a house, and if the first floor isn’t solid, there’s going to be a problem.
“Write good content that people want to read” – this was the mantra of Web 1.0. Writing is hard, though. It takes time, and effort, and thinking. (“Writing”, in this sense, really stands for any kind of “content”, including images and video, but, not by coincidence, “writing” conveys a more serious process than “content creation”.) Without that writing, that hard work, there’s little enticement for people to invest much time in a website.
Work pays off, though. What Web 1.0 was letting us be, is our own authors, our own editors, our own publishers. We could all create the kinds of newspapers, magazines and reports that we always wanted to, but could never afford to have printed and distributed. “World Wide Web” – world wide wasn’t just important, it was amazing, and still is; shortening it to just “the web” loses something. When you remember the first time you got email from Iceland, or the first time you saw visitors on your site from Argentina, that was Web 1.0 magic.
Which is not to say Web 2.0 doesn’t have a lot to recommend for itself; many of its features are not just technically interesting and useful, they can make for a richer user experience. What a movie or game version is to a book is essentially what 2.0 is to 1.0. What 2.0 can’t do is make a web presence that lacks that solid Web 1.0 foundation robust or engaging in and of itself. When a community forms, it forms around something, and when community members engage, they engage with something – and that something, on successful websites, is solid, well-written Web 1.0.
Wishing you happy writing.