We really need Me 2.0, not Web 2.0

A great deal of energy these days goes into arguing just how much Web 2.0 applications are different from those offered during Web 1.0. I really do wonder to what extent this is the case, and will offer up social search as an example. I will argue that what differentiates Web 2.0 from 1.0 is not primarily the technology, but in fact us- the humans who make the whole thing matter in the first place..

Yahoo! version 1.0 was basically a human-generated directory of web content. People powered the search listing process, much to the frustration of those who wanted to get listed in search engines. This power source became open, upon the creation of the Open Directory Project (originally gnuHoo), which opened up the listing function to community editors. Soon, we shifted from people power to machine power as AltaVista, Inktomi through Google evolved.

We soon realized the weakness of machine search. Humans figured out the rules by which machines were programmed to filter the search function and began manipulating the system. In reality, search was always human powered. In one version, humans both made and implemented the rules. In a second version, humans made the rules and machines carried them out (or learned ever so slightly in the process).

Now search returns to a human-powered process, by way of social search engines like Wink, or the “celebrity playlist” style of Rollyo. Social software may stick this time around simply because more of us are comfortable being social online. We have learned a bit, surfed a bit, and realize both the benefits, and the banes of an internet “unfiltered.” We’ve learned that link love isn’t really love, like the 5000 friends of a MySpace kiddie aren’t really friends. We are functioning more like cummunity members than visitors to some strange virtual world.

Without humans willing to go along however, the capacity for tagging sites and search results really won’t go too far. We’ll just go back to machines, if only because we don’t have to pay them by the hour, with benefits. Web 2.0 is completely contingent on Me 2.0 in order to thrive.