The new internet

Web 2.0 is not a technology or even a group of technologies; rather it is a buzzword describing the companies and ideas behind the emergence of a “new” internet built on the participatation of users.

“Technology,” a sage once observed, “is stuff that doesn’t work yet.” That sounds like a joke, and it is, but it is also a crucial truth about what technology is and does: we perceive something to be technology only when it is still new and, like most new things, not quite working the way it’s supposed to. Nobody thinks that the wheel is technology, though it’s as important a piece of technology as humanity has ever invented … It is when people stop thinking of something as a piece of technology that the thing starts to have its biggest impact. … The internet hasn’t quite got to that point, but it is getting there.

In A bigger bang the Guardian Weekend magazine devotes 15 pages to Web 2.0 with a lead feature by award-winning novelist John Lanchester and interviews with many of the people behind it: in no particular order:

Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales

Bebo, Michael and Xochi Birch

Digg, Kevin Rose, Martin Stiksel

Netvibes, Tariq Krim, Joshua Schachter

WordPress, Matt Mullenweg

Writely, Sam Schillace

Flickr, Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield

Craigslist, Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster

Technorati, David L Sifry

Feed Burner, Dick Costolo

Blogger/Odeo, Evan Williams

And lest you think this has little to do with law, I have also just posted an article on just this topic, grandly entitled Community, democracy and the future of law publishing. This article draws together thoughts from a number of my recent posts on the development of legal information services in the digital age.