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The other day someone asked me what type of work I do. I answered that I help to build web sites (Asp.net, c#, mostly). So he said "so then you must do a lot of Web 2.0 stuff, right?".

I proceeded to respond by trying to define Web 2.0 as a change in the way that websites were designed 5+ years ago, incorporating more client-side scripting, ajax and standards-based approach to building web sites. I then said that almost anyone doing web design/development today who has stayed up to date with new standards and techniques over the past few years, should be using "Web 2.0-like" techniques, and it is not a really accurate statement to describe a website today as being "Web 2.0". (Person with whom I was talking was a programmer, but in a totally different domain - C++/VOIP stuff).

How do you answer (well-intentioned) people who try to talk to you about programming using the catch-phrases of yesteryear? ("Web 2.0" could apply for web development, I am sure that there are similar terms in other areas as well.) Just nod and say yes? Try to explain yourself?

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I work for a web development company and in a brochure we gave out to 350 people to show how we're the best in the industry it states "We use the latest and greatest software such as Web 5.0". WTF is Web 5.0 and how is Web 2.0 or anything software. FAIL –  Brandon Wamboldt Oct 26 '10 at 1:12
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That poor C++/VOIP person! Let's hope he wanted to hear the history of Web and wasn't just being polite him/herself. –  Yar Nov 28 '10 at 22:12
    
What's wrong with "Yes!"? Perhaps following up with "but the details is a bit messy" and THEN you have their interest! –  user1249 Nov 28 '10 at 22:37
    
I'm not sure I understand the problem. Did you not want to talk to this person? If so, just excuse yourself to get some food or a drink, or say you don't feel up to talking shop. I for one really enjoy talking to programmers in other domains, learning about their domain, and teaching them about mine. –  Charles E. Grant Nov 28 '10 at 23:37
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7 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Web 2.0 has nothing to do with programming, only with marketing. The techniques existed 10 years ago. The perceived change is, that all over sudden all the people who have no understanding of technology thought this was hip.

So just politely tell him Web 2.0 is nothing but a buzzword and whether you do Web 2.0 or not mostly depends on how your product is sold, not what it actually involves. Say that you'd be happy to elaborate on the languages, platforms, concepts and techniques you employ so he can judge on his own.

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If the other party was technical (C++/VOIP) then you can perhaps talk in detail about the definition of "Web 2.0" and they will gladly listen, learn, and appreciate the gory details.

OTOH, and given your subsequent question this may be the case, they're not particularly technical then I'd suggest taking care not to make them feel as though they're a bit of a chump for falling to the marketing boffins hype, and rather agree with them, that yeah, you are doing a lot of "Web 2.0 stuff" with some serious "AJAX JSON postbacks to and from your cloudbased VPS server which is mashing into Google's latest satellite based API and presenting with an integrated YUI, jquery html5 iphone app"; all making them feel like they're pretty smart to ask, and you look like you're pretty smart to be doing it.

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I was trying to formulate an answer along these lines but couldn't come up with the right words. –  ChrisF Oct 25 '10 at 11:34
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I nod my head and say yes. There is almost no point in explaining and going into a big long rant on what Web 2.0 is really does nothing more than make you come across like a pompous asshole.

If they pry deeper into what that entails then I'll explain, but in a 'why my job is cool way', not 'why everything you just said is wrong and an example of everything that is wrong with humanity' kind of way.

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Explain that Web 2.0 is sooo 2005 and that you only code in HTML5 these days

On a more serious note. Is it that bad to interpret roughly what someone means by a marketing term such as Web 2.0 and run with it? Unless you think there's an interesting conversation to be had in educating someone on web terminology, it may be easier to adopt a "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach"

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Or, if you can't beat 'em, interpret what they really mean, but still don't use marketing terms yourself outside of marketing. –  Roger Pate Oct 25 '10 at 16:45
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0
Wikipedia has a good article on Web 2.0. Mainly its the upcoming of AJAX, more client side scripting, more of dynamic pages, weblogs (blogs), socializing websites, micro-websites, etc.

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Thanks. However, my question wasn't "what is the definition of Web 2.0". Rather it was: how do you answer people (politely) when they try to use old buzzwords or technology catch-phrases with you in a way to make it sound like they know what they are talking about? –  Yaakov Ellis Oct 25 '10 at 10:05
    
oh, they pretend like they know it. If so, may be we can ask, 'is this what you mean?' Or we can tell that, there are new things that came out lately which are popular like so and so. Is it making sense to you? –  kadaj Oct 25 '10 at 10:33
    
@Yaakov Ellis, are you sure it was pretension and not honest ignorance? I was a web developer back in 1996, but haven't worked seriously in web development since 2000, I could easily see myself asking a relatively clueless question, and would be grateful for as much time as you wanted to spend, setting me straight. "That's a complicated topic and I really don't feel like talking shop." is also an entirely polite and honest answer. –  Charles E. Grant Nov 28 '10 at 23:49
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How do you answer (well-intentioned) people who try to talk to you about programming using the catch-phrases of yesteryear? ("Web 2.0" could apply for web development, I am sure that there are similar terms in other areas as well.) Just nod and say yes? Try to explain yourself?

I usually try to get some free food or drink out of the situation while I distract them and get them to talk about something else. Most people are not nearly as attached to the subject-at-hand as it seems. Another trick is, "can I see you wallet?" and then you abscond.

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I would ask what they mean by web 2.0 and try to explain what it really is compared to their views on it. They could view it as that horrible style with lots of gradients, reflections, and SUPER ROUND corners (to the tune of 50px).

Following their explanation, I would attempt to explain that web 2.0 really is a meaningless term, which is mostly the expansion of social networking and the ability for people to easily communicate. It really has nothing to do with the way your site works, unless you're building a social network of sorts.

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