Sunday, 28 May 2006

Can anyone own "Web 2.0?"

by Cory Doctorow

O'Reilly has an amazing, wonderful gift for popularizing hard ideas and for explaining abstruse technology in catchy ways. "Web 2.0" is only one of O'Reilly's many accomplishments, which started with the publication of the first user documentation for Unix, and has continued through many iterations of excellent, world-changing ideas and memes.

The downside of creating amazing, industry-shaking ideas is that they become embedded in the popular consciousness. While the digerati know that O'Reilly originated Web 2.0, the idea is so infectious that it's just become part of the fabric of the industry. One of the things that makes O'Reilly's ideas so great is that they go on to be part of the infrastructure, invisible and huge and powerful.

According to Cory, it is a choice O'Reilly needs to make: control the use of the words "Web 2.0" or continue to inject great memes into the technology world.

If O'Reilly continues to control the use of the words, I believe the value they can extract from it will be short term and limited. With the evidence backlash occurred in the last couple of days that people will be using a different term for the same concept. The value of "Web 2.0" will be lost in new terms such as Web 2.1.

If O'Reilly wants to continue to be influential and continues to publish good books (and make good profit), they need to do a lot of damage control. At this stage, they can apologize, stop the service mark enforcement. If this is done sufficiently quick, the damage should be minimal.

No comments: