Within IT and business in general we are losing a vital aspect of language, that is terms which have a meaning. It occurs to me that within natural language concepts arrive first and words arrive second. The internet has reversed that and words are arriving before concepts. Sit in on any management meeting and you will hear any number of buzwords flowing around and everyone has a different understanding as to their meaning. A particular example from my past was magic bullet (a cross between a silver bullet and a magic solution I guess), this meme rocketed around my company and was used without care (or understanding) by all and sundry.
Recent examples of words without meaning are SOA and Web2.0. I am still to find a meaning for SOA, I rather suspect it may be an example of a new concept of words actually creating concepts. The origins of the term SOA are so lost and distant the intended concepts are lost for all time. All who hear it have created their own meaning, as it has propagated the meanings have become real. Now, SOA does not mean any one thing its means lots of things each one having value, this creates a void one cannot have many meanings attributed to a single word so at some point we will have to invent new words to attribute to these new concepts .. I wonder if these new words will spark new concepts? Creativity in action? I am pleased to see that at least for Web2.0 there is an attempt to stem this flow Tim O’Reilly has posted a useful article that is derived from a brainstorming session where they attempted to give meaning to the word. Could it be this document will be a definition? I can only hope that it recieves sufficient readership to allow clarity.
Tim O’Reilly’s document: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html?page=1
As an aside from reading the article I wonder why we need the term Web2.0 at all? Is it just a marketing ploy, does the person who names something own it? I was very interested in the concept of AJAX, when I mentioned this too a number of collegues they dismissed it as something people have been doing for a while. Web2.0 is about using the web as a platform this concept is pretty obvious, what is the value of the name?
2 thoughts on “Web2.0 a new buzword?”
It seems like there are trends there, and it’s cool that someone’s looking at them. Working out what didn’t seem to work, and what did, and doing less of the former, and more of the later… that’s god to be good, right?
In terms of names, it’s an interesting thing. For some terms, their only value is in their absolute specificity. Given a term, you get a mathematical defninition out. Directed Acyclic Graph is an example. If that became watered down, it would be bad, because it’s value is in not being watered down.
For other names, they point towards an idea. They’re “slipable” to use Douglas Hofstadter’s term (and use it wrong, I expect). That’s useful too. They give people a space to think and play inside, they sugest, rather than dictate. They can be hip, now, and zeitgeisty, which is fine.
When names go wrong though:
* A term someone coins with a specific meaning, gets hijaked and turned in to something vague.
* Different groups adopt different concrete ideas arround the same term (RSS, perhaps?).
* People claim something is specific, but don’t really tell you what’s inside the term and what’s outside (perhaps .Net is a bit like that. It’s fair enough, as often the value of something comes from many different sources – user acceptance, neat technology, solid foundations, heavy corporate support, etc. I think it’s reasonable to make that clear though.).
🙂 Keep blogging, bro 🙂
Re: Web II
I think the key point I was making is that names are preceeding meaning. The names are getting greater exposure than the concepts that sit under them. Because of this I was suggesting that maybe people are creating meaning and that is the cause of the explosion of ‘buz’ words.
A simplistic idea possibly.