by C.G. Lynch

The Three Types of Web 2.0 Critics

Jul 02, 20073 mins
Enterprise Applications

There are three types of people who wish Web 2.0  would go away. They are the old-schoolers, the contrarians for-the-sake-of-being contrarians, and the moral egotists. If you have any to add, please send me an e-mail or comment below.

1) Old Schoolers – These are the old and fat CIOs or IT managers who enjoy 10-year-old corporate systems that no body else likes. They believe, contrary to all rational thought, that locking down users in an old-fashioned hierarchal structure works best for the 21st century employee. As Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson says, the old schoolers are “business people who have been given the thankless job of keeping the lights on, IT wise. And the best way to ensure that they stay on is to change as little as possible.” To the old schoolers, something like social networking is a community of people in denial. They maintain these technologies will never have business value. The old schoolers happily ignore the fact that even old-guard, traditional vendors are creating new applications that embrace Web 2.0. 

2) The contrarians for-the-sake-of-being contrarians

This is the funniest group of the three. In terms of technology, they note everything Web 2.0 has been done before. Being able to use the web for collaboration is old-hat, done to death back in the 1990s and the beginning of this decade. Business wise, Web 2.0 is just like the last bubble, a time of excess, start-up companies offering little value and venture capitalists running amuck by supporting loser business models run by loser entrepreneurs armed with little more than a vague idea for a product and a decent knowledge of how to build a web site. The contrarians for-the-sake-of-being contrarians ironically contributed a lot to the movement – they were involved in technology during the first web bubble. They evangelized new technologies but then became angry once others started using them during the past couple years. They are like that small, core group of fans who like a rock band before they hit it big (think fans booing Bob Dylan when he went electric). They followed the band around the small clubs, cheered them on, passed around bootlegged copies of live recordings, encouraged those “uneducated” and less imaginative folks around them to get on board, and then jump ship once they finally do years

later. They’re an overly cautious lot, because they’ve been burned before and won’t let that happen again.

3) Moral egotists

I give them their own category separate from the contrarians because they are a special breed. Rather than waste time arguing the trivial difference between 1.0 and 2.0, or how those respective periods were conceived, they believe that Web 2.0 will create a world in which others will not be rewarded for their hard work. Since the crowd trumps the expert as people seek to be become “the most meta,” mediocre information aggregated by the herd will be the unfortunate result.  These people often have ulterior motives, since they are often in the employ of large media companies (see: writing a book you hope people will drop 20 bucks on at Barnes & Noble or Amazon) and feel their job is threatened by a society full of niche interests.

Did I miss any?