Bruce Sterling: the short but glorious life of Web 2.0 and what comes afterward

Bruce Sterling is a science fiction author, a design essayist and a net critic. He’s also one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Sterling says he respects Web 2.0 – and that it was a great success (past tense!) Web 2.0 has been realised, has spread worldwide and has crushed Web 1.0. Web 2.0 is the likes of Wikipedia while Web 1.0 was Britannica online. Web 2.0 was Flickr while Web 1.0 was oFoto. Web 2.0 was search engines while Web 1.0 was portals.

Tim O’Reilly’s canonical definition of Web 2.0 “Web 2.0 is the network as platform spanning all connected devices… (and so on and so on and so on). Sterling somewhat dismissive of these “tech gurus”. Tim’s definition is not a complete thought… it’s a network. A web of bubbles and squares, a glorious thing, a Chinese restaurant menu. But take away the bubbles and replace them with personalities and the definition immediately becomes an O’Reilly tech conference. Throw in catering and scenery… and you have Webstock.

Web 2.0 is a platform? You cannot build a platform on a cloud says Sterling. Web 2.0 is similar to the sub prime mortgage debacle – the long tail meet finance… A magic “Ponzi scheme from a demon haunted world”. Web 2.0 did not kill Web 1.0, it took its bones and used them as components for the new paradigm – turtles sitting on the back of turtles sitting on the backs of turtles.

Yet another O’Reilly quote brings up a sci-fi galactic vision of the Web – orbiting asteroids around a core of the web as a platform;

  • Tagging not taxonomy
  • An attitude, not a technology
  • AJAX (a platform, and a floorwax!)
  • Granular addressability

Sterling has a blog – 6, 7, 8 years old. Sitting on the servers riddled with link-rot. He likes oxymorons – web platform, wireless cables, business revolution, dynamic content, collective intelligence and he thinks that the structure of the Web can be compared to the structure of the failed global banking system. Collective intelligence is simply the brainy term for the invisible hand of the the market – it is not an abstract force for good. He looks for a better piece of jargon for collective intelligence; primeval meme ooze or the like.









And at about that point it seems Sterling lost the majority of us – a few comments seen buzzing during his presentation (all via Twitter);
Bruce Stirlling speech is written and read word by word.- it's an article
I'm also having a hard time following Bruce's rant.  What's his point?


I think Bruce Sterling has lost the room. It's one thing to challenge preconception but he's just trolling

Bruce Sterling, I hung on as long as I could, but you lost me at "stink in the nostrils

Bruce Sterling is heaping scorn on the digital divide and OLPC. Doesn't seem to have a point, just being jerky IMO

Of course the problem with being critical of an intellectual like Sterling is that one runs the risk of being called ignorant or an intellectual lightweight. Ah well… perception is reality.

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