The Next Web: "Web * e^(t/Tau)" (or "Just Say No to 2.0")

By Timothy M. O'Brien
October 16, 2008 | Comments: 8


Bernd Debusmann of Reuters uses "Capitalism 2.0" to refer to the economy which will emerge from our newly nationalized global banking systems. Here's an excerpt from the second page of Debusmann's article:

"Amid the gloom and anxiety of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, which started in the United States in 1929 and then spread to the rest of the world, there are hopes that Capitalism 2.0 (if it ever comes about) will result in a more equal society. "There is a tremendous opportunity now to narrow the income gap," says Sam Pizzigati of the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington think tank."

Such a paragraph is supposed to make you stop, look around and mutter, "Wow! A new form a Capitalism. A Capitalism 2.0, a more equal society." Later whilst driving home from the office, maybe you'll hear Kai Ryssdal on Marketplace refer to the new emerging global banking system as "Capitalism 2.0". Not too long from now, we'll have a "Capitalism 2.0" conference and a series of analyst whitepapers on "leveraging Capitalism 2.0". Using "2.0" to identify an emerging shift is now an easily recognizable pattern, and there are some common artifacts to the introduction of the 2.0 modifier present in Debusmann's article.

An O'Reilly Radar Report

Where 2.0: The State of the Geospatial WebWhere 2.0: The State of the Geospatial Web — "The GeoWeb is a rich melange of data and services, full of opportunity. It's worth studying by anyone concerned with the future of the internet platform. (It's not just for location geeks!)." --Tim O'Reilly, from the Preface

How to Introduce a 2.0 Modifier in Three Easy Steps

When someone wants to introduce the "2.0", look for the following:

  • Identification of an Emerging Trend - Debusmann follows "Capitalism 2.0" with a parenthetical phrase "(if it ever comes to pass)". A "2.0" modifier has to suggest the possibility of future transformation. Your new name doesn't have as much edge or conference potential if you've simply identified a transition which has already happened.

  • Appeal to a Noble, Highly Social End - "Capitalism 2.0" will lead to a "more equal society". If your "2.0" will "increase access", "expand networks", or realize some egalitarian ideal, who would oppose it?

  • General, Anonymous Sentiment - Note the phrase "there are hopes that" in Debusmann's article; the author isn't boldly proposing the new name, he's associating it with some general, anonymous will. This is just Marketing 101, you pay attention more "if many people believe X".

Want to attract some attention to your new electric car? Call it Electric Car 2.0. Want to position your highly misleading blog full of falsehoods about Obama as being legitimate, call it Obama 2.0. Want to say something about the transformation of a cultural institution? Just write a sentence which appeals to general, anonymous sentiment and suggests some sort of emergence:

There are many who believe that the new forms of interaction with members of the House and Senate represent an emerging shift to a more social, more connected legislature - Congress 2.0

If you are lucky someone will pick this up and write an article about how you coined the term "Congress 2.0", and then you can start thinking about how to "effectively leverage Congress 2.0 to create new interaction paradigms". After a while the Congress 2.0 name will wear out, so you'll need to move on to the next version...

Refusing to use Web 3.0

I'm getting advertisements for some sort of Web 3.0 conference. Evidently "Web 3.0" refers to "the web" that is to follow "Web 2.0" and which involves machine learning and the Semantic Web. It was "invented" by someone at the New York Times. Web 3.0 is really just an attempt to put a name on a combination of the "Semantic Web" proposed by Berners-Lee and the "Singularity" proposed by the popular science fiction writer Kurzweil. It involves "network computing", "semantic web", and "machine learning". Here's a quote from the Wikipedia Web 3.0 page:
Web 3.0 has been described as the "executable web". In the analogy to file system permissions, Web 1.0 was "read-only", Web 2.0 is "read-write", and Web 3.0 will be "read-write-execute".

It gets better, under the header of "Socio-technological Research", we have:

The inclusion of the concept of a "Web 0.0" as the pre-existing real-world "sensual web" has been proposed.

Right... we've come full circle. As soon as you introduce a new 2.0 or a 3.0, instantly define a 0.0 and capture the market that existed before your new name. I reserve the right to blog heavily about Web 3.0 once it gains widespread popularity, but I can't help but read the select Quotations on Web 3.0 and note that they are all vauge guesses by seriously important people.

My turn to coin a new moniker for the web: "Web * e^(t/tau)"

My new name for the web is pronounced "Web times e to the t over tau". Maybe someone else will invent the name "The Exponential Web" and then there can be a struggle for credit. (Oh, and, no "Web times e to the t over tau" is not the same thing as "The Exponential Web", if I have to explain the differences you understand neither concept.) I'm seriously contemplating a trademark on "Web times e to the t over tau", and I've been talking to my various business partners about putting on a "Web times e to the t over tau 2009" conference to be held in the Evanston Public Library. What is "Web times e to the t over tau"? You ask... Simple, it is a vision of the web characterized by:

  • A series of Analyst whitepapers entitled:
  • A constant fear of a Malthusian Catastrophe
  • Conferences designed to identify the next name for the web
  • Lot's of Graphs and Visualizations to Attract the Attention of Wired Magazine

Back to Capitalism 2.0

Right, so the idea was that we're witnessing the end of economic era. Web 2.0 worked because it was aimed at a technical audience, it referred to a "reconceptualization" of a novel idea, and it suggested something software developers are familiar with: the idea that the first release of a software system is often buggy and not ready for primetime. At the time of the Web 2.0 conference, there was a generational shift in the approach and technology of the Web. Tim O'Reilly clearly identified a set of trends, and the idea gained support. Most 2.0 modification attempts lack clarity and specifity.

Debusmann just throws out "Capitalism 2.0" without bothering to tell us what the term means other than saying that it will "result in a more equal society". (What does that even mean?) If we were really going to use the proper numeric modifier for Capitalism, I think it would be more like "Capitalism 8.3 branch Reagan + Military Industrial". It is as silly as writing about Religion 2.0 (Luther's Theses were probably Religion 21.0).

Retiring 2.0: Just Say No to 2.0

"2.0" should be retired, let's all agree to two or three 2.0s - Web 2.0 and Business 2.0. Let's move on to something other meme modifier. The late 90s were characterized by the overuse of the "cyber" and "e" prefix: eMoney, eGovernment, eFinance, eCommerce, and, while we've abandoned "e" and "cyber", the important concepts remain with us. "eCommerce" and "cyberspace" are still with us. I predict that the "2.0" modifer slowly fades, the only term that will stick will be "Web 2.0", and it will refer to all "Web n" where n > 2.0. "Web 3.0" will likely be merged with an as yet undefined modifier, or we'll just call cloud computing and semantic web by their respective, well-established names.

What's the next modifier? Or are we going to see a combination of modifiers: "Cyber Banking 4.0"? I'm going to stick with my, "Web times e to the t over tau" idea, maybe others will generalize it and we'll see someone write something like:

Many anticipate that the increased adoption rates of holographic telepresence technologies in sport broadcasting will lead to a more accessible, a more equal participation model for professional sporting events - a "Sport times e to the t over tau" approach

I propose that the next modifier movement is "Serious", "Real", or "Meaningful".

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People seem to like your new naming scheme. I hear they're calling it Naming 2.0.

@Anton, how naive. This is actually Naming 3.0 which encompasses every form of Naming including your primitive ideas of Naming 0.0 "reality-based Naming" - :-)

"Captialism 2.0"? - Socialists like Sam Pizzigati are just giddy about the economic crisis. Hell, they interviewed members of the American communist party and they were ectastic.

"Capitalism 2.0" is just as vacuous and meaningless as "Web 2.0," which is to say, totally, absolutely and completely so. The phrase "Web 2.0" has not ever, nor will it ever, add one iota of value to the world. The term is pure hype, and most of the associated discussion is utter drivel.

Adding "X.0" suffixes to any common term such as "Web," "Identity," "Capitalism," "Where," or "Electric Car" should be a felony - punishable by public flogging, tarring-and-feathering, stoning, and/or hanging - in all 50 states.

This is the real Web 3.0It's almost 3 years old now. I guess it was just ahead of its time..........

Techies with left side of brain dominant prefer 'technically correct' naming such as in XML/Schema file... But media/marketing team (with right side of brain well oiled) want more catchy names.
Even if techies don't come up with new products, marketing team is forced to atleast change the name of product to save their jobs.
Recently a group of techies sat together in startup meeting of a million dollar project. No one except 'google' could suggest a good name for project.


The image attached to the article (rm20.png) is misleading - the unix shell won't expand the "* 2.0" glob and remove all 2.0 stuff since the asterisk is inside the quotation marks. Still, I realize it is just there as a symbol: because the quotes are opening and closing, not the regular typewriter/ASCII character #22 double quotation mark.

What it really should read:

  rm *" 2.0"

Would that be Punishment 2.0?

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