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Buzzwords like Web 2.0

Tom Pittman just wrote a short Opinion piece on lots of modern buzzwords and technologies he doesn't like. It starts out as an argument against Web 2.0 but quickly becomes much broader. Like with most of Tom's writings, I half suspect he's onto something, and half suspect he's just fighting change.

Anyway, it reminded me of how much I loathe buzzwords, the most popular one right now being Web 2.0. The problem with it isn't that it's a word that's used to sell customers new stuff they may or may not really need. That's not good, but that happens to lots of words, most of which are just fine. The problem with Web 2.0 is that it's such a vague thing - the web is essentially a data storage and transfer medium, after all.

That vagueness has the disadvantage that once a word has made it across a few levels of management, or through a couple internet discussions, different people have completely different meanings attached to it. While that's the case with pretty much every word, especially among native speakers, most words themselves express what they mean so precisely that you can only misunderstand it in a limited way.

Web 2.0 on the other hand as a word simply means the next version of the web. As such, this could be anything from a new version of HTML to a new way of writing. And such vagueness is what makes a word a bad buzzword for me. If you don't believe me, try an experiment: Go to several discussion groups and see what they talk about when they refer to Web 2.0.

Yes, AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) gets mentioned a lot. That's an abbreviation I can live with (heck, I'm even using it in the interface to my web site when I write texts like these). Why not just use that? Tom also mentions collaborative content, which is true, though most discussions I personally took part in didn't mention that. It's something you can easily rip out of the buzzword without anyone noticing, it seems to me.

As an aggregation word to group together several new technologies one could probably even keep using Web 2.0 without it being buzzwordy. But selling people Web 2.0 technology would kind of be like trying to sell someone writing technology without specifying whether you're talking about pens, paper, typewriters, a creative writing class, or a word processor.

So, that's why I don't like most buzzwords. Most of them are too vague and simply used to avoid actually saying something. I try to use more concrete words that actually say something.

What do you think?

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Created: 2006-06-15 @081 Last change: 2006-06-15 @198 | Home | Admin | Edit
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