Malik Decries Web 2.0 Fatigue, Pixie Dust

    November 8, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

As the big Web 2.0 event changes from “Conference” to “Summit,” the whole Web 2.0 meme may be approaching “old and busted” status; so far the “new hotness” to replace it has yet to emerge.

Writers receive press releases, and lots of them. If I’d printed out every one I’ve received over the past 18 months I could fold my way to a horde of origami warriors and take over the world. Until some killjoy steps up with a grin and a flamethrower, but you can’t be big without thinking big.

Web 2.0 as a concept has become big in the online world. I was told by a CEO the first day of the conference that some people were buying sponsorships to the Web 2.0 Summit just to obtain coveted passes to the show.

That’s a pricey ducat. It illustrates the pull that the intangible and frequently unexplainable Web 2.0 concept has on the tech world (but Monkey Bites has Tim O’Reilly’s explanation.) An example of that came to GigaOM founder and long-time Business 2.0 writer Om Malik, in the form of a press release from Level 3 Communications:

The Web 2.0 conference hasn’t even begun, and you can feel the fatigue. You can almost predict the marketing “spin” coming over next few days, that is enough to make you groan.

A perfect example is this news from Level 3 Communications, touting the fact that they had won the contract to provide bandwidth to fast growing photo-video hosting service Photobucket.

It is all spin and a blatant attempt to get a little Web 2.0 pixie dust. In fact, Level 3 is spending liberally to get it. They are sponsoring the Web 2.0 conference, and paying top dollars for it.

Level 3 provides what might be called plumbing around the Ted Stevens household. They provide communications infrastructure. In the seemingly anything-goes world of the Internet, Level 3 is the missionary position in a Web full of chocolate-covered contortionists.

There is nothing wrong with being a plumber, whether it’s Web 2.0 or “the house is flooding” variety. But it’s not exciting. It’s not sexy. It is essential, otherwise Photobucket would not have needed the deal with Level 3 to gain access to its potent bandwidth.

Web 2.0 has been promoted as the place to be in the online world. If you aren’t Web 2.0, whatever you think it means, you may suffer from the desire to belong. It’s no different than wanting to hang out with the cool kids in junior high school; these days the cool Web 2.0 kids are named Battelle, O’Reilly, and Arrington.

Level 3 wants to hang out too. Aspirations can be good things. They give people goals to strive toward, regardless of the obstacles placed before them. Maybe Level 3 just needs to be certain its goals, and those of its shareholders, won’t be clouded by pixie dust.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.