The current state of Web 2.0 applications

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As the Twitter hype its currently reaching in Austria (today it's in Falter, so next week I expect it to be in Profil and the week after that in News), I thought I'd take a brief look at some Web 2.0 technologies and see how they're doing these days. These are personal impressions, not factual knowledge, so take this with a grain of salt. Please.

Patient:Blog
Value as a software tool:High. Great to document processes and for networked knowledge building.
Hype status:Post-hype
Hype symptoms:Suffered from the delusion that everybody could be their own journalist at a mouseclick, and even worse, that everyone had something noteworthy to say.
Reason for collapse:Users figured out that writing on a regular basis requires time, effort and dedication.
Current status: Recovering after falling into post-hype depression. Has found many niches where it is put to good use. Remaining webloggers seem to have something to say.
Life expectancyLooking good.

Patient:Wiki
Value as a software tool:High. Fantastic for knowledge and project management in work groups.
Hype status:Not hyped, barely noticed
Hype symptoms:Was constantly being confused with Wikipedia, which is based on wiki software.
Reason for collapse:There was no hype that could have collapsed, but wikis may not have taken off faster because many people still think that all you can do with a wiki is build Wikipedia-like encyclopedic sites.
Current status:Going very strong, but largely unnoticed by the general public.
Life expectancyLooking very good.

Patient:Wikipedia
Value as a software tool:So-so. Good for quick reference, but information therein always needs to be checked against other sources as it can be altered by anybody at any time.
Hype status:Post-hype
Hype symptoms:Thought it could become the encyclopedia that explains everything.
Reason for collapse:Hype collapsed when weaknesses inherent in the wiki software caused repeated publicised cases of embarrassment for people trusting Wikipedia articles. Also, many contributors are not happy with the way their articles are dealt with.
Current status:Expanding, but much along the interests of a couple of very active groups. Still high percentage of unsatisfactory or faulty articles, but things are a lot better than they used to be. May not be a true encyclopedia, but has become an impressively rich data repository.
Life expectancyWill last until Microsoft buys it and turns it into WikiEncarta.

Patient:Podcast
Value as a software tool:So-so. Typical old-style broadcast medium.
Hype status:Post-hype, but the hype was never very strong.
Hype symptoms:Thought it could kill radio.
Reason for collapse:Hopeful podcasters soon found out that it requires a lot of technical knowledge and dedication to make your own podcast, so most of them never finished their first episode. Many listeners were put off by large number of lame podcasts.
Current status:Those who were dedicated enough are still going. Professional media are offering successful podcasts.
Life expectancyAs long as there's pods, there will probably be podcasts.

Patient:Second Life
Value as a software tool:Great for negating the real world and practicing escapism.
Hype status:Post-hype
Hype symptoms:Believed to be the biggest thing since sliced bread, the perfect platform to find customers and get rich fast if you had failed to become rich in real life.
Reason for collapse:Life as a Sim wasn't all it had promised to be. Also, First Life required too much time.
Current status:Dying.
Life expectancyDoes it still exist?

Patient:MySpace
Value as a software tool:Good for musicians to build fan groups and distribute sound bites.
Hype status:post-hype
Hype symptoms:Creating the illusion that you had thousands of really cool friends, most of which were musicians.
Reason for collapse:You had all those friends but couldn't really do anything with them.
Current status:Going okay for musicians, but everybody else seems to be defecting to Facebook.
Life expectancyGive it another year or so.

Patient:Twitter
Value as a software tool:Something like an unfocused Instant Messenger.
Hype status:In the throes of major hype
Hype symptoms:Everybody thinks it's ever so much fun to type disconnected 140-character messages.
Reason for collapse:People may become annoyed by the signal-to-noise ratio over time.
Current status:Expanding and growing, but the novelty factor is diminishing.
Life expectancyOne or two years, although microblogging will certainly survive integrated in other social software simply because unlike blogging everybody can do it.

Patient:Facebook
Value as a software tool:Cleverly engineered collection of several Web 2.0 tools, an all-in-one package.
Hype status:Not hyped; seems to be spread by itself.
Hype symptoms:Everybody starts using it without anybody telling them how much fun it is.
Reason for collapse:May become so big that its main appeal -- providing access to a manageable amount of data on the Internet and a way to manage friend contacts -- is lost.
Current status:Expanding and growing. Has the potential to even replace the World Wide web as the primary Internet medium that a large group of people move around in.
Life expectancyDifficult to tell. At least until the next big thing comes along.

 

The louder the hype, the bigger the fall?

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I have no opinion about this, but I thought this article about users of Facebook and MySpace, which appeared in "The New York Times" yesterday, was interesting:

http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/09/does-social-networking-breed-social-division/

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