Mitch Joel explains Web 2.0 (and why it matters)

Mitch Joel hates it when you say “Web 2.0“. I know. He told me.

Okay, he didn’t actually tell me in person as in, we’re having coffee at Starbucks and he said, “by the way Kevin…

I was listening to a webinar Mitch did earlier this year. He was talking mostly about Web 2.0 and how it’s changed much of our world.  And he ranted a bit about the term “Web 2.0″.  He really dislikes it.

But more important is what he did about it. He spent a fair amount of time explaining how our world is different now, because of what’s happened with the Internet over the last decade. And, even better, he talked about what those differences are in concrete, tangible terms.

Here’s how Mitch Joel explains the difference between Web 1.0 (if there was such a thing) and Web 2.0 (what we have now):

Web 1.0 Web 2.0
What was (yesterday, the past) What is (today, the present)
Eyes (passive, reading) Hands (active, doing)
Encyclopedia Britannica Wikipedia
Personal Websites (FrontPage) Blogging (WordPress, Blogger)
CMS Content Management Systems WordPress, Wiki, others
Directories (Hierarchical, rigid, pre-defined) Tagging (folksonomy, free-form, evolving)
Stickiness Syndication
IM Instant Messaging Twitter
Conferences (Planned by organizers, managers) Unconferences (Planned by group, participants)

(Note: I added the stuff in parentheses so don’t blame Mitch for them.)

To help explain further, he gave an example.

As Wikipedia was getting more popular, the concerned folks at Encyclopedia Britannica were kind enough to let the Wikipedia people know they found some mistakes in their burgeoning website. They gave them a list. So the Wikipedia people thanked them and promptly fixed all the problems.

Then they returned the favor and asked the Encyclopedia Britannica people when they could expect their corrections to be done.

The response? Crickets.

Mitch makes his point well. In the Web 1.0 (and earlier) world, communication and information did not flow like it does today. It was not as free. Instead, it was controlled and edited and filtered and restricted. Fewer people (much, much fewer) had the ability to create and publish their ideas and share them with a vast audience.

Today ideas, information and conversations are easier to create, publish, find and be a part of.

That’s what Web 2.0 is about.

So as you think about how to attract and retain more loyal customers, keep this in mind. We are in a Web 2.0 world. Your customers all have the ability to talk to you and about you.

And you have a greater ability than ever to talk with them. You can develop better relationships with them. Get to know them. Learn what they want. Understand their world and how you fit in it.

Your customers have always a gold mine of useful knowledge about how to make your business work better.

Now they can tell you.

How will you use the power of Web 2.0 to grow your business?

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz