Until innovation succeeds. And then - WHAM! - everybody finds out. And usually not in a good way. Web 2 is that next big thing, and it is bearing down on your business right now.
So, one day in 1999 I was on an journey from nowhere to nowhere, and I stumbled across Web 2. And I kept right on going, because the next thing I found changed by whole career and, in fact, my life.
It all started with this guy Jakob Nielsen and his site useit.com. It’s a site about usability, the study of how humans interact with computers via the interface - graphical user interface (GUI) or whatever. And don’t let anybody give you their ‘opinion’ on usability. It’s a laboratory science. I had been reading Nielsen’s columns for a while because they were making the website I was working on at the time spectacularly successful. This column was pretty esoteric, but it dealt with a real problem — not being able to edit web pages through a browser.
Toward the end of the column, there’s a link to this post on one of the earliest of what we now call blogs, Dave Winer’s UserLand. Today, it’s called scripting.com. This guy Winer had a kind of software called Manila that let people click a special link on a page, and then edit the page. (That, in a nutshell, is Web 2.)
I pushed the IT guys at my company to check it out, at least experiment. They just laughed at me. “You can’t just have anybody making web pages.”
Anyway, at the very bottom of this second article, there was a link to what some of Dave Winer’s friends were up to, a website and a book called Cluetrain. The people who wrote this book, that whole side of the world called “dot commies” - they saw the big picture clearly, accurately. They saw way so few people controlled so much information. And how that was about to change.
A few of their 95 Theses:
1 - Markets are conversations.
3 - Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
39 - The community of discourse is the market.
40 - Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.
74 - We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.
It was this last one that got me. I grew up on advertising, literally. My father was a Mad Man at J. Walter Thompson working on Ford and Pan Am. I knew the inside story on advertising, yet there I was making more than I ever had before writing ad after ad after ad.
Cluetrain opened my mind to the possibilities for my career. Within six months, I had left a job I hated to join a start-up dot com, and I haven’t looked back since. But that’s another story.
Here’s the bottom line: Cluetrain is right.
The proof is Google. They break all the rules except one, yet they make all the money. The one they don’t break: give the people what they want.
What the heck does any of this have to do with Web 2 (and you’ll definitely be asking yourself that question if you take the class)?