Isn’t it obvious what Web 2.0 is?

There’s a lot of talk and angst about what Web 2.0 is or means. Isn’t it obvious?

Web 1.0 was the time period between Netscape’s IPO and the March 2000 dot-com crash. It was exemplified by irrational exuberance, over-funding, and massive hype, but also by the mass-deployment of fundamental consumer-facing technologies, the birth of huge, high-margin businesses overnight, and a massive creation and transfer of wealth. In short Web 1.0 was the first bubble.

Web 2.0 is the second bubble.

There’re a lot of things being mish-mashed under the Web 2.0 umbrella, but it’s a sense in the air, a time, not a place. It’s that air of optimism (a little more cautious), that river of funding (a little less), the startup hype machine (slightly more subtle), and the birth of huge, high margin businesses (a few less).

This is a bit of a navel-gazing bubble though. We collectively thought that the biggest effect of the Internet was the consumer web – it wasn’t. It was the doubling of the global labor force that Internet-enabled offshoring enabled. It seemed like the real monetary pain came from bursting dot-com stocks. It didn’t – it came from the overleveraged telecom sector.

In the same vein, the real bubble to be afraid of is not the Web Bubble 2.0 – it’s the massive run-up in asset prices, real estate and stocks, post the Fed-driven increase in liquidity of the last five years. If that one pops, watch out.