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April 30, 2007

Brand Naming: Redefining Web 2.0

ustream.jpgIf you’re among those who think Web 2.0 is overhyped, you’ll appreciate Jim Louderback’s snide take on the terms he heard tossed around and the things he saw people doing at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Here are a few of my favorites.

Twitter - Transmit your every thought to, well, everyone at the touch of a button! This new micro-blogging platform allows you to annoy your friends with all the mundane things you do every day. So, instead of writing a blog post every few hours that details all of the deep thoughts you’ve had, you can spew them out to e-mail, IM, and cell phones as soon as you think them! And, with only 140 characters, the more shallow or vacuous, the better! […] It’s a great tool for finding your friends on a Saturday night. It’s a lousy way to build a business.

Well, ah…yes. Even though its fans are finding ways to use it that go beyond the vapid and obvious, Twitter deserves its name because it’s a constantly chirping source of distraction.

Headcasting - But Twitter is so, like, two weeks ago. Now there’s headcasting. Instead of twittering on and on every few minutes, you simply staple a camera to your head and stream your life to the world. Now that audience you’ve built can watch all the mundane, boring, and occasionally exciting things you do all day, every day. Want to headcast yourself? The new site makes it all possible.

Eeek! I can just imagine what our clients would say if we trained video cameras on the confidential work we do for them. But maybe you’d like to watch Chomsky and Pushkin at work, instead.

“Headcasting” as a term, has yet to make it into Wikipedia, but it’s already in use to describe 3D modeling techniques for creating moving facial meshes. Nevertheless, as the Mashable blog says, feeds the world’s narcissism, starting by putting “you” in its name. Peter Cashmore encapsulates it nicely:

I am currently filming myself leaving this comment and streaming it to Ustream, while preparing to upload the clip to YouTube, posting a “writing comment on Mashable” message to Twitter and taking a photograph of myself leaving the comment to post to Flickr.

Whoever dies with the most metadata wins.

So what’s a Mashable when it’s at home? It’s a blog all about social networks and a collection of tools for mixing up your media, so you can connect LinkedIn to Plaxo and PhotoBucket to MySpace. A mash up (or mashup, or mash-up) is something put together out of bits of other things, whether it’s a combination of Google Maps with Twitter or a Virtual PR Murder Mystery made up of snippets of other people’s podcasts.

Jim Louderback thinks it sounds like 1999 all over again. Nonsense. We’ve got much better names this time around.

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Posted by Diane Prange at April 30, 2007 8:06 AM
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1 Comment

Of course, the last time this happened we got Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, and many more products that revolutionized our lives. Even the absurd period of 1998-99 brought us PayPal, Netflix, and plenty of other heavyweights. All with huge amounts of skepticism around their launch, it should be noted.

I think a great deal of the products you see at conferences like SXSW or Web2.0 are not intended for current mass-market appeal. Sites like Flickr are Web2.0 sites trying to capture the hearts of the world in the here and now. Sites like Twitter are meant for a relatively small group of technorati who feel a need to be constantly connected -- it may seem like a fad from the outside, but when you're a part of eight different companies, working 16 hours a day, it can be nice to be constantly kept up-to-date as to what's happening. That said, I certainly stopped following the Web2.0Expo Twitterfeed after being twttrd every thirty seconds or so with some inane banality. But that's what the bleeding edge is like, right? It smooths out as it reaches for public acceptance.

Anyway, by the web's standards I'm an old curmudgeon, and I see plenty of people who are quicker to adapt getting huge amounts from services like Twitter. I think it's helpful to remember that just a few short years ago, when the social networking sites first made the scene, people reacted much the way they are now to products like Twitter. It's hard to conceive of having so much input, so much networking, and so much constant upkeep -- but people seem to adapt, and before you know it Rupie is buying you out for $580M.

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