This was bound to happen. The minute Web 2.0 goes mainstream, everyone who has an interest in this space calls for its death or rants that it has jumped the shark.
We're just getting started here. Pull up a chair, get comfortable.
Newsweek Magazine cover story for the week of April 3rd, 2006 is Putting The 'We' In Web - From MySpace To Flickr And YouTube, User-Generated Sites Are Rocking The Internet.
Here are two quotes from the Newsweek Magazine story, Putting The 'We' In Web, which I think shed some great light on the subject.
"The smartest guy in the room is everybody. Tim O'Reilly, an early promoter of the Web 2.0 idea, says, 'The central idea is harnessing collective intelligence.' This sounds lofty, but is actually happening all the time on the Web. Every time you type in a search query on Google, what's happening under the hood is the equivalent of a massive polling operation to see which other sites people on the Web have deemed most relevant to that term. Magically, it yields a result that no amount of hands-on filtering could have managed. 'It's clear that the Web is structurally congenial to the wisdom of crowds,' says James Surowiecki, author of a book (The Wisdom of Crowds, naturally) that argues that your average bunch of people can guess the weight of a cow or predict an Oscar winner better than an expert can. That's why some people believe that an army of bloggers can provide an alternative to even the smartest journalists, and that if millions of eyes monitor encyclopedia entries that anyone can write and rewrite (namely, the Wikipedia), the result will take on Britannica."
And the wake up call:
"Less than a decade ago, when we were first getting used to the idea of an Internet, people described the act of going online as venturing into some foreign realm called cyberspace. But that metaphor no longer applies. MySpace, Flickr and all the other newcomers aren't places to go, but things to do, ways to express yourself, means to connect with others and extend your own horizons. Cyberspace was somewhere else. The Web is where we live."
This is why the companies featured in the Newsweek article work. The community is running it. The users are creating and interacting with the content. The owners of the companies just manage the traffic (and make the money). We no longer sit passively by and click our way around websites. We do stuff. We Blog. We Podcast. We customize. We share. We instant message. We comment. We evolve.
Web 2.0 is not a buzz word (there will be no Web 3.0). Marketers are still getting used to banners, search engine marketing, affiliate programs and email marketing. Now, we're all forced to better understand what happens when user-amassed wisdom (thank you Cluetrain Manifesto) forms communities and meets technology that allows them to act on this knowledge.
You can read the whole article here (and pass it on to your marketing colleagues): Newsweek Magazine - Putting The 'We' In Web.