Reaction: The Death of “Web 2.0”

I was thrilled this morning to see a post on TechCrunch about The Death of “Web 2.0“. The death here is of the term, hence the quotes, as opposed to the death of everything we take this term to mean. As you can tell by the sarcastic name of this blog, I hate the term. I hate it for various, mostly pedantic reasons.

You can probably guess at most of my pedantic objections to the term, (when did web 1.9 come out? etc.. ), so I’ll save you that monologue. Instead I think I’ll list some other terms I dislike. In most cases it’s the usage of the term that frustrates me, rather than the word itself… poor old word.


A word to describe something that is somewhat indescribable is never going to be helpful.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I don’t expect Facebook to write phrases like  “Install this embeddable Flash application with viral sharing hooks“. I do understand the marketing requirement for packaging concepts into simple terms like “App” (which is one I like). But when industry professionals sit round a table and discuss projects, is it too much to ask that we use terms that describe what we are actually going to do when we leave the meeting room.

Here’s some other great synonyms for widget we could use in the future, perhaps when “web 3” is released: contraption, doodad, doohickey, gizmo, thingamabob, thingamajig, whatchamacallit.

See also beer widget.
Apparently Doofer (television remote control,UK) is not yet in the dictionary. It really should be.


I don’t really hate the term, but it massively abused in marketing circles.

As a developer I obviously regard it as an acronym (AJAX), but I do accept that it has become more of a word and I’m fine with that. The acronym is not entirely accurate anyway: It doesn’t have to be Asynchronous, although it usually is. It does not have to use XML; JSON is probably more popular nowadays.

However, the term should only ever be used when a JavaScript application is making background HTTP requests. But cool boxes opening and closing, or text fading in? This is not necessarily Ajax – It’s just Dynamic HTML. If you’re going to brief a developer you need to both understand what it is you’re talking about.

“Social networking site”

Recently a brief came to us at Public with this word written on the first line. We fairly quickly deciphered that they really only wanted a “community site”. A very big difference, especially in £s.

“Social media”

Actually I don’t have a problem with this term, but my brother does, so this entry is for him.

Why do I care?

I may be pedantic, but I also have a rational argument and there is definitely middle ground between feckless buzz-words, and convoluted tech speak. I also believe that, particularly in a professional environment, terminology is very important – As long as every one is on the same page, that’s fine; but how do you know they are? Assumptions lead to bad communications, which lead to messy projects, which lead to missed deadlines and late nights.