Monday, March 24, 2008

Web 2.0 in a Web 1.0 World

In a February 28, 2008 blog post, Forrester's self-proclaimed Web 2.0 cat herder Erica Driver, put forth their Web 2.0 framework. I really like the the work they did to frame up the concept but it still makes me think about the whole concept of "Web 2.0."

It makes me think did we ever have a Web 1.0?
How come we never called it that when we were in it?
When were we in it?

When did the major code release happen for version 2.0? Is there a minor code release where we get a Web 2.2? When does Web 3.o come out?

I write this all with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I just find it funny, and kind of frustrating, that when I look back to 1996 we were doing Web 2.0 back then. (For those that need a basic definition of Web 2.o click here. For those who don't, read on).

Here's a story...

In 1996 I jumped off the TV production path and joined the team to help launch AOL's Digital City Philadelphia (DCP). It was there that I met up with some of the smartest, most forward-thinking people I would meet in my career.

Supported by our GM, we tried anything and everything experimenting with this new space. We would dream up ideas and new ways of engaging with members at lunch and by 4pm we would have it online. The only metric we held ourselves accountable to was ENGAGEMENT. Over time engagement translated into flat out retention where we could see usage patterns developing around regularly scheduled times we would update the site and specific times of day based on member lifestyle schedules. With engagement came ad sales. Go figure.

It was awesome.

My primary role at DCP when I joined was to build out our sports content. I had an advantage coming from a town full of passionate sports lunatics. For any of you that have spent any time in Philly, you know what I mean. We're proud to be known for throwing snowballs at Santa.

AOL was known for Community and at DCP this was at our core.

Every article that was written...
Every opinion that was put forth...
Every sports score that was reported... had a message board, chat room, upload library, or poll attached to it.

Usually, we connected multiple tools together to keep the conversation going. Imagine reading a controversial sports article, that was followed by an opinion poll, which then asked you to post a message on our message board as to why you voted the way that you did. While on the message boards members would find other users' posts to comment on - to the point where we built DCP into the most trafficked site in the Digital City Network (and the #1 local sports provider).

We were creating unbelievable, user-generated, sticky content for our members to repeatedly be engaged with throughout the week, which we measured each day. Even back then, with rudimentary measurement tools, we would measure everything we could to see the impact.

All on the world's (at the time) best community platform - America Online.

Web 2.0 started way before 2004. It's the the spirit for which the Web was built, bringing content and people closer together through simple to use interfaces. Where getting and sharing information, and communicating with people was made easier by technology.

What do you think? Do you have an opinion? Share a comment for the world to see.

'Til next time.

1 comment:

Rosey said...

Looking back Todd, you guys were clearly ahead of the curve. It was fun being along for the ride with you guys across town.