Since you are reading this, you are probably already aware of some of the elements that are part of Web 2.0. I say this, because in the act of reading a blog, complete with trackbacks, pings, comments and various linkages, you are participating in the new Web 2.0 frontier.
And while Web 2.0 doesn’t look very different from Web 1.0, there are fundamental shifts underway that represent a very real change in the way that the web operates. You can see Tim O’Reilly’s site for an in-depth explanation, but the difference is that where Web 1.0 allowed us access to a lot of standalone applications that would work together (or not) in very predefined ways, Web 2.0 draws upon the power of a dispersed network of people and computers who are actively determined to engage with others.
In many ways, Web 2.0 technologies are humanising. They allow us to share our lives, thoughts and creativity with others … some who we know, others we do not. Web 2.0 manifests as open source software, blogs, creative commons, squidoo, wikipedia, filmloop, podcasts, AdWords, Google Pack, RSS and so on (yes, that would be another big list). As you can see, there is a lot of technology involved in this shift, which represents a sizable challenge to many IT and software companies. But there is also a great levelling … just as Microsoft’s emergence in the 1980s and 1990s as the standard platform for PCs allowed much greater sharing and collaboration (while also consolidating Microsoft’s power base), the use of Web 2.0 technologies places this power back in the hands of the users.
Web 2.0 is a great challenge for marketers, but also a great opportunity. We need to be across this technology, but we need to engage with it in the spirit in which it has evolved. We need to understand that the momentum is not towards technology, but towards people. Towards engagement. Towards sharing.
It also means that we need to be more integrated in our thinking. We need to be able to tell stories in the space afforded a mobile phone screen. We need to enthrall in a paragraph of blog text. We must draw gasps with our daring photos, podcasts and interactive content. And we must provide a consistency of message and strategy through the linking of narratives, and use the platform as part of the storytelling process.
A challenge? You bet!
But I, for one, can’t wait to see how it will all go!