The Web 2.0 and the electric motor

Le Monde, the French Daily, published an article, link below, on the web 08, the leading event on Web2.0 created and managed by Loic Le Meur.

The tone is ironic and probably exaggerated and since I did not attend being out of the country I can’t confirm or infirm what is said.

But the second level substance, the one you read between the lines, is very interesting. These gathering start to look like « passé », or « déjà vu », and remind one of what happened at the end of the Web1.0 bubble. Many new web companies had predicted the end of brick and mortar for many players, the arrival of a new world that would change everything. They were partly wrong and partly right as we know. But more importantly there is no more conference on the Web1.0 today because the technology is here, full speed, has changed a lot, has been integrated into every business model.

Having a conference today on how the web1.0 would change the world would be analogous to one on how the electric motor has changed the world and will change it further. There might still be conferences on electric motor’s innovation and revolutions but no one cares except the electric motors manufacturers and the manufacturers of products that may use these electric motors. Electric motors have indeed changed the world, yes, they continue, yes, but sowhat?

The Web 1.0 has changed the world, yes, it continues to have a huge impact, much bigger than web 2.0 by the way if you look at all the ways basic e-commerce is still sea-changing the business world, yes, sowhat?

The same will very soon apply to Web2.0. And this is what permeates between the lines of this, and a few other, article.

The real question is therefore « sowhat? » In other words, how will the society change because of the electric motor, sorry the web 2.0 (the big switch analogy of Nicholas Carr), how will individuals relate to their employers, their family, their friends, their employees, their political parties, their local communities, their church, etc. ; how will corporations relate to eachother? What is the model of society this leads us to?

The technology is important but at a given point it becomes irrelevant as a central topic of discussion and the applications’implications (not even the applications themselves) become the heart of what matters.

Now let’s be fair, this is much more complex to analyze and debate than any technology discussion, and — although we still need these conferences in order to be able to think one step further with our social glasses on top of the technological ones— what becomes more important is to follow, field by field, the deepest implications. Corporations have stopped discussing which collaborative technology to use for instance, and they focus on how collaboration changes management. They are right, web 2.0 technology does not matter anymore because they know it is here and it can do a lot and it will do a lot more in the future (like the electric motor) but the how to use it and how to apply it matters a lot because there is still a lot of unknown for them on change management.


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