Next-generation web not so hot, some say

Is Web 2.0 more hype than substance?

Is Web 2.0 a great set of tools for business to embrace and remain competitive, or just a consumer fad that’s full of the of the same old IT hype and without a meaningful definition?

More than one commentator has drawn parallels between Web 2.0 hype and the dot.com bubble.

Writing on Computerworld UK Heather Havenstein says a Forrester Research survey found that Web 2.0 is making its way into the enterprise and that it is helping with business processes.

Havenstein says that 106 of the 119 CIOs Forrester surveyed were using at least one Web 2.0 technology such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking and content tagging. CIOs were most likely to view social networking and blogs as unnecessary while seeing RSS, wikis and tagging as beneficial, she says.

Many CIOs told Forrester that the adoption of Web 2.0 was not only being driven by gains in staff efficiency, but also by fear of competitive pressures — something which surprised the report author, analyst Oliver Young.

“There is a lot of fear and uncertainty driving this adoption,” he told Havenstein. “I don’t think we have seen something like that since the last tech bubble and all those companies who said they had to get a website up and running and get online.”

Havenstein says that while many of the companies using Web 2.0 view it as a worthy experiment, “if forced, [they] would not divert focus away from fundamental initiatives like SOA migration, infrastructure consolidation and disaster recovery planning” to order to invest Web 2.0 technologies.

Writing on ComputerWeekly.com, Shamus McGillicuddy says Forrester Research found that most CIOs want Web 2.0 suites of technology. They want everything from one vendor so they could be certain of integration and security. The theory is that a suite from one vendor will provide “tighter integration and perhaps lower maintenance costs”.

But McGillicuddy says using one vendor suite goes against what Web 2.0 is supposed to be about. There is also an argument that smaller vendors would provide “cheap, agile applications that can be deployed quickly and easily”. But not everyone believes Web 2.0 and the enterprise are good bedfellows.

A piece on CIO.com says the concept is a great idea, but suggests caution as it is being driven by the many of the same venture capitalists who made lots of money of the first tech bubble.

Writing on Ars Technica, Nate Anderson goes so far as to suggest Web 2.0 has the scent of “dookie” rather than money about it.

He refers to the fact that web founder Tim Berners-Lee revealed in a podcast interview for IBM that he has some big doubts as to whether Web 2.0 is that different from Web 1.0.

“Berners-Lee faults the term Web 2.0 for lacking any coherent meaning. A quick look at a list of alleged Web 2.0 sites is enough to illustrate what he’s talking about. In what sense do all the sites do something qualitatively different than the sites which came before? In what sense do these sites do anything similar enough that they can all be lumped into a single category?”, Anderson asks.

And finally, writing on A List Apart, Jeremy Zeldman wishes good luck to those “toiling” over AJAX- and Ruby-powered social software products.

“To you who feel like failures because you spent last year honing your web skills and serving clients, or running a business, or perhaps publishing content, you are special and lovely, so hold that pretty head high, and never let them see the tears,” Zeldman says. “As for me, I’m cutting out the middleman and jumping right to Web 3.0. Why wait?”

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