Language changes with the times, so when we stop to listen to the words being used we get some insight into the intentions and dreams of the day. When we see patterns of use, we get a deeper sense of underlying values and how people are thinking. Take the way people talk about the web, and how it’s changed from Web 1.0 to 2.0.
In a recklessly informal and undocumented manner, I’ve been listening to the words that people emphasize when they talk about what’s important in Web 2.0, and it’s definintely different from the first time around (not that these things have real, discernable boundaries until we name them).
Hot Words in Web 1.0
Push vs. Pull
Hot Words in Web 2.0
Now, this is a very selective and small sample, and it’s meant to demonstrate rather than prove a trend I’ve noticed in conversations and writing about what’s happening online. I see two significant differences between these sets of words. The first is more emphasis on human activities and experience (and more touchy-feely, to be fair); the second is that adjectives rather than nouns.
This second change is pretty interesting because it suggests more than just a new set of buzzwords in play. Instead, it suggests that we don’t talk as much about the technology being cool as what we do with it being cool.
Consider the leap being made here. In Web 1.0 we were impressed by streaming media, online translation services and shopping carts. It was a feeling of techno gee-whiz. It was fun, for sure. But now, services like MoveOn and Upcoming are moving people from online shared interest to physical world shared space. Flickr and LiveJournal let people express their personalities through words and images. This is a lot differeent from being able to catch CBC Radio online or to watch a news clip.
Try it yourself. When you hear a conversation going on about the web, what are the words that you hear the most? Are people talking about the nuts and bolts, or are they paying more attention to what they can build? Listen to them. They’re telling you what’s important.