End Users Don’t Care About Web 2.0

Start rant…

Sometime on Thursday, I’m going to be on a panel at Microsoft’s Tech Days in Costa Mesa, California, and one of the topics thrown around for discussion was, “How do you think Web 2.0 affects your business?”

I’m so far from an early adopter, it’s ridiculous. I have a 9 year old laser printer and 5 year old color laser printer on my desk, and I still believe in using a land line even though it’s VOIP because it sounds better than the cell phone, and it has a decent speakerphone. That MacBook I have is almost two years old, and I can’t dream of replacing it, other than Photoshop’s a bit sluggish.

I don’t believe in adopting stuff just because, and outside of the iPod Touch I have (and I still can’t around to buying an iPhone), I use what works.

That’s why I still don’t believe the hype of Web 2.0.

For most users, they don’t care, seriously. Walk out on the streets and ask any random person these questions:

  • How does Web 2.0 affect your life?
  • Do you tweet?
  • How many RSS feeds do you subscribe to?
  • Are you on MySpace, Facebook, Ning, and Digg?
  • Do you contribute to Mahalo?

After the first twenty or so quizical looks, you might get an answer to one of those questions. In these times, people just want their problems solved. They want more time, more money, more value. Not more jargon sold to them as snake oil.

Web 2.0 is only important to technology people because:

  • We are making money off of selling it.
  • We are immersed in it.

For the other 90 percent of the population, Web 2.0 doesn’t mean anything to them, but connecting with their friends on Facebook and MySpace does.

Commenting on articles has existed on the Web for a very long time; blogs just give it a structured form that can be branded. Branding technology with names and explanations makes it easier to sell, but doesn’t diminish the fact that some of these technologies have been for a very long time (Or, ask Jesse James Garrett to explain to Dave Winer how AJAX is different than SOAP). Of course some of the approaches of connecting people to create network effects is important, but it was happening anyways.

Does Web 2.0 have any value? Look at the Wikipedia entry:

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has questioned whether one can use the term in any meaningful way, since many of the technology components of Web 2.0 have existed since the early days of the Web

The point?

In times like this, it’s good to demonstrate real return on investment like, “it’s going to connect your employees and make it easier to find documents” or “your business is going to make or save $20 million a year”. Talking in buzzwords just confuses people. Explain concisely and directly the value of what you are trying to do, like “more sales” or “less costs”. Target what end users need without worrying about the technology, or explaining that the technology that you are using is somehow new when it’s really just improved.

Keep it simple.

Keep it direct.

Keep it with value.