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Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices

Ever since I wrote What is Web 2.0? on the eve of last year's Web 2.0 Conference, people have been asking for more. I've given dozens of talks around the world for companies increasingly far from the tech world. (In fact, I'm writing this entry from Necker Island in the Caribbean, where I'm meeting with the general managers of all the Virgin Group companies.) All of them what to understand not just what Web 2.0 is, but how to apply its principles to their business.

So it's with a great deal of pleasure (less travel required!) that I'm announcing a special report that I've been working on for the past few months with John Musser of fame, entitled Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices. John has taken my What is Web 2.0? paper and expanded on it, producing a detailed analysis of the Web 2.0 core principles that I outlined there and has specified best practices that are derived from them, a number of drill-down analyses of sites (including and flickr) to show how they apply those principles, and perhaps most importantly, a self-analysis tool.

This report is also something of a business experiment for the Radar group. While we're focused on news from the "alpha geek" frontier, we're also well aware of the business impact of the technologies we cover. As those of you who come to our conferences know, we're increasingly drawing business strategists, investors, and VCs as well as our traditional developer audience, and we're working to develop new products that serve that business audience.

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Comments: 32

steve   [11.05.06 06:19 PM]

I find it ironic that general managers are asking a book editor about programming, when Web 2.0 is barely capable of making a 3Ghz modern PC behave like a toy from the 1970's.

Web 2.0 is based on Web 1.0 technology, plus the fortituous discovery of a single JavaScript command that makes AJAX possible. It is a waste of time, and you should be holding out for something better before pushing the wares.

Matt   [11.05.06 07:17 PM]

Maybe I'm just completely clueless, but what's with the price? $375? You must indeed be targeting upper management . . . as a spendthrift "Web 2.0" entrepreneur I'm unlikely to spend a significant percentage of our budget on a single document. What kind of electronic book should cost $375? 37 Signals' "Getting Real" goes for $19, and that's coming from a company that is making real "Web 2.0" software real profitable.

Bradley Mazurek   [11.05.06 09:49 PM]

I agree completely with Matt. I'm also trying to start a Web 2.0 business and would love to read this document, but I'm way too cash poor to purchase it right now. Until then, I guess I wait.

It's somewhat ironic that Web 2.0, based upon the continual beta, engaging users as co-developers and principles of harnessing collective intelligence seems to take a non-participatory and somewhat elitist stance simply by pricing the product so high. At $80 or $90 I could stomach the outlay (although barely), but at almost $400, I'm going to have to pass.

And finally, to Steve: Perhaps you should read the excerpt provided and monitor more recent developments. The 1970s terminal experience seems to be sufficient and more beneficial because of other things the model offers. Products and companies with 2 or 3 developers and minimal funding are doing end runs on large companies. There is hype here, to be sure, but perhaps there is more afoot than the availability of a single Javascript command.

steve   [11.05.06 10:27 PM]

Bradley... Web 2.0 is a marketing phrase invented by O'Reilly, with much sound and fury over nothing much.

The concepts that Web 2.0 claim, such as collaboration and community building, already existed without being roped into selling a marketing phrase.

The problem is when legitimate endeavours are being embraced and smothered in some vague term that doesn't mean much more than "Tim At Necker Island".

The most telling indication is the way the definition of Web 2.0 changes according to successes and failure. If something worked, it's Web 2.0. If something didn't work, it wasn't.

Suffice to say that claiming to be Web 2.0 will get you shown out the door when trying to raise cash from people who have better places to invest their money.

Kempton   [11.05.06 10:52 PM]

I disagree with the two above postings by Steve. Reading Tim's free "What is Web 2.0?" paper has given me some good basis for understanding "Web 2.0". And I look forward to reading the free short 7-page excerpt of the 101 page report. Even I can't afford the $375 cost for the report, I understand business exist to make money and I think Tim is definitely one of those well deserve of some respect as he has provided us with so much free and easily available analysis of issues and topics.

Just my 2 cents.

paul   [11.05.06 11:15 PM]

So where is your Web 2.0 site Tim?

djol   [11.06.06 12:03 AM]

I agree with the majority of the comments above. Regardless of the content of the report (and I find myself somewhat cautious regarding the supposed panacea that is 'Web 2.0'), US$375 does seem to be quite steep, and well out of the reach of most. I love O'Reilly books as much as the next geek, but this seems like opportunistic profiteering from a buzz word birthed in the same marketing department. Tim, be careful with how you cash-in on the hard earned respect of your fellow nerds.

Bradley Mazurek   [11.06.06 12:20 AM]

Steve...As with any human endeavour, our understanding evolves based upon the weight of evidence and ongoing analysis.

Of course concepts of collaboration and community building existed prior to Tim's Web 2.0 articles: it's called society. And perhaps the parallels between what we are seeing on the web and the dynamics created by the advent of society are the foundation of Web 2.0. Our understanding of the dynamics of the Web as they existed ten years ago were crude. Tim refined them couple of years ago. He presented them as he understood them and has continued to refine them. They continue to evolve today. To scoff them simply for being incomplete or because they existed prior to being collectively named is, quite frankly, inane.

It is entirely possible our understanding of these dynamics is incorrect. But knowledge isn't advanced unless people are willing to make observations and plant a stake in the ground. O'Reilly Media has done so. If you have a suggestion to make, make it. Your claim that "It is a waste of time, and you should be holding out for something better" does little to advance understanding. You have an audience, whether here or in a blog. If you have an alternative idea to advance you should do it. The world would be better off for it. But to simply decry the attempts of others to push back the veil of human understanding is an affront to the brains we have been given.

Paul Schwartz   [11.06.06 12:27 AM]

Web 2.0™ is a perfect scam for O'Reilly.

Josh   [11.06.06 02:09 AM]

Bradley, the joke's on you.

Tim's "big idea" is getting other people to work for nothing, while he gets rich.

"We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery."

- Continental Congress on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms in 1775

Begging for crumbs at his table isn't my idea of dignity.

Andrew Parker   [11.06.06 05:09 AM]

The fact that the content is growing gray behind a pay-wall instead of living free as the RFC it should be shows to me that you all are not truely embracing Web2.0. How is this any better than want the NYTimes or WSJ are doing, and look at how lampooned they are in the Web2.0 community for their actions. Free your content, you will be rewarded. If you want to charge $375 for a report, join Goldman Sachs.

Vishal   [11.06.06 05:24 AM]

It will be good if you can make this report available free for bloggers who are engaged in blogging for last 1 year. The price is too much in
today' flat world and is report pricing is itself is not web2.0ish .

Dave Joosten   [11.06.06 05:32 AM]

All though i like to read Tim's viewpoint on Web 2.0 i think it's rather expensive for a book. I work in the Media in Europe, anyone doing what you are doing is making a clear statement. And that's all i want to share about this, wish you the best on this but ill pass on sending you a check for this one. I wrote my own 2.0 vision in about a dozen papers and i think anything longer is to much in detail then what web 2.0 really stands for anyways. Perhaps you forgot the main clue about the mission statement on web 2.0 after all? Ill let you think about this .. if you ever read this of course ?!?

Cheers from Europe.

Franky   [11.06.06 06:48 AM]

$375? Must be a typo right? Give me a break!

chris   [11.06.06 06:52 AM]

Anyone know when 3.0 is coming out and if it will be cheaper?

Eliot (Amy)   [11.06.06 06:55 AM]

I don't have a problem with the book price, because I think it is probably aimed at people who don't work on websites, but CEOs of companies who want to be 'in' and on the 'down low' with 'what's going on.'

I don't know why anyone who actually implements good interactivity on the web needs a book to tell them what Web 2.0 is.

I also thing some of this is blowing over, like most fads. Not everyone wants to have to interact all the live long day. Go passivity!

Ross Mayfield   [11.06.06 07:00 AM]

Is it still made of people?

David Burrows   [11.06.06 07:31 AM]

Much nashing of teeth at the pricing, and while i understand where the high ticket is coming from I think you've missed a trick here.

The main drive of 2.0 (or potential 2.0)companies is coming from small agile groups that don't have the big budgets of a corporate. Pricing this circa $400 is not going to work for them.

Although i'm sure you've done the research already, I really think putting this out at the price point of a high end technical book (say $99) is going to sell you a hell of a lot more copies than the $400 approach - the deman is high for this type of well researched paper, even from small 2.0 shops, but it's priced out of the relevant market.

J�kull   [11.06.06 07:47 AM]

The free culture has made spoiled brats of us all. The document is clearly not directed at bloggers.

I think Tim wants to convey a message that Web 2.0 paradigms also fit in big corporate strategies. I hope they do and I hope this document will be a wake up call to companies across the spectrum.

chris   [11.06.06 08:25 AM]

Those that can, will.
Those that can't will try and make do with what they can.

"Web 2.0" is a term with baggage. Most of those agile companies are already well beyond what people think of when they hear "Web 2.0" - the phrase was the first step in a very fast sprint to bigger and better. But as this evolution of the web is understood, the phrase really becomes meaningless.

Putting a $400 price tag on it does not preserve it, but rather dates it.

carlo de marchis   [11.06.06 08:29 AM]

I also think that 375$ is too much for a PDF. I was forced to buy a >1000$ special report on CMS stuff some months ago and still suffer... It's a psichological thing about books and/or digital books. I have a big budget but satill find it very expensive. So Tim listen to the crowd go open source with this now.

symbolina   [11.06.06 09:24 AM]

apparently you have been taking instruction from Microsoft's licensing group. $375 is ridiculous for a report. have a lower cost version and a corp version if you need to charge that much.

Raj   [11.06.06 10:15 AM]

Uh --- price elasticity of demand?

Sharon Schwartz   [11.06.06 10:15 AM]

Is the report is available on You Tube?

crowd feedback   [11.06.06 11:42 AM]

I definitely side with the majority of people here who object to the price tag and feel it is out of touch with the feet on the street. I understand this is a business, but still...

crbidlack   [11.06.06 12:24 PM]


Thank you for giving away the seven pager. I can easily share this with others in my company who may not be up on Web 2.0. Then if someone believes there's something to be gained from the entire report, then great we can purchase it. Quite frankly, I find the pricing incredibly reasonable for the quality of thinking and analysis that goes into O'Reilly materials. If this was coming from a large research firm you could easily be paying 30 times that price.

I find it a bit surprising that there's so much backlash from folks here. I feel that people are personally attacking Tim for identifying an audience for some material and pricing accordingly. Perhaps the audience here is not the target. And to say that Tim and O'Reilly Media haven't contributed to open discussion and the flow of knowledge, I just don't see the world that way.

Finally, Web 2.0 gives a name to something. Ajax gives a name to something. That's about communication, not building a business. I'm trying my best not to confuse the two, and I hope that just because I (or someone else) uses the terms Ajax or Web 2.0 that I/they won't be judged for it.

Thanks again Tim for helping to put so much quality content into the hands of us technologists and entrepreneurs. I truly appreciate your work.



Marc Hedlund   [11.06.06 02:34 PM]

[Disclaimer: I used to work for O'Reilly.]

I suspect none of the people commenting here really would want this report at any price. Of course the price seems to high to you -- you're not in the market for this information! You're more likely to be reading tech blogs and trying the latest betas and installing Rails Edge. And bully for you (and me, since I do the same).

But part of what Tim does well is call trends very early that often wind up affecting a huge number of people -- including all the people in the world, of whom there are thankfully many, who will never read tech blogs and don't want beta software and couldn't care less what Rails Edge is. People in that category will read something that summarizes and analyzes what Radar readers already may know, and will pay for it. Eliding thousands of blog entries and hundreds of betas into a coherent, comprehensible, and cogent analysis is of value.

I've bought O'Reilly books for exactly that reason in other areas (I know I could figure out this Perl trick by reading the C source and subscribing to perl-monks, but could you just tell me the answer so I can get my job done?), and if you read this blog, you probably have, too -- even though Perl is free and the Perl community is insanely helpful. People, maybe you, still bought Programming Perl, a book about a free and open tool. Likewise, just because you think of yourself as a "committer" on Web 2.0 doesn't mean everyone is, nor that a commercial book explaining the ideas behind that term should be free.

It's easy to be cynical and kick at Tim or kick at the term Web 2.0 -- blog comments, too, are free. But it's just plain weird to take up so much of your time criticizing one of thousands of books on the market because you're not interested in buying it.

Matt   [11.06.06 06:20 PM]


Not sure where your last sentence is coming from. I think the reason for the criticism is precisely because until we saw the price, we *were* interested in buying it.

Would you rather sell X @ $375 or X+Y @ [insert lower cost here]? In the latter case, you might make just as much profit (or more!) while simultaneously spreading your ideas to a larger audience and avoiding the elitist air the former case puts off.

You explain the great benefit of the document without explaining why a geek like me shouldn't be interested.

"Eliding thousands of blog entries and hundreds of betas into a coherent, comprehensible, and cogent analysis is of value." If you exchanged 'blog entries' and 'betas' for 'articles' and 'artifacts' doesn't your sentence describe just about every worthwhile work of non-fiction? How does one arrive at a figure of $375? Edward Tufte sells his books to a niche market for fifty bucks a piece after spending 7-8 years compiling them, and he actually has production costs (!).

Tim O'Reilly   [11.07.06 07:35 AM]

I'm sorry that folks reading this blog are upset about the price -- it's a good sign that you guys want to read what we have to say -- but those commenters who noted that you aren't the target audience are exactly right. The document is targeted at the Forrester/Gartner customer, and believe me, the report is cheap by those standards.

One of the things that we've noticed at O'Reilly is that because of our exclusive focus on the "alpha geeks," we tend to abandon markets as they mature -- just as the money starts coming in with corporate adoption. We're trying to pitch more products to this audience, so we don't remain solely early stage. It's still a work in progress.

That being said, those of you who said we'd have done much better at, say $99, might well have been right. Pricing is always a bit of a crapshoot, where you're trading off volume against price.

And those of you who are looking for something free, please note that my What is Web 2.0? article has been read by hundreds of thousands of people. (And Steve (the first commenter), you clearly need to read that article, since it makes clear that Web 2.0 is NOT Ajax.)

Alan   [11.07.06 09:44 AM]

My impression is that this is for the Gartner/Forrester crowd, but more specifically for the subsegment that are technology or web companies.

I'm not sure if I'm thinking about this the right way, but it seems to me that this is analogous to the advent of the US highway system, when the "cool" business to be in was the automotive industry. To me, this report deals with specific web 2.0 topics of particular interest to the "tools" vendors such as social networking, tagging, etc. etc.

This is important stuff. Nevertheless, I'm waiting for some good thinking and analysis on what will be the end result of all of this such as the way the highway system enabled franchise plays (Mickey D's), stronger branding, etc.

What types of things are now possible in the health care industry, in education, for non-profits, etc.? Have you identified which industries or subsegments are ripe for change thanks to web 2.0? If anyone has a good report on that, let me know.

Alan   [11.07.06 09:45 AM]

michel   [11.08.06 12:15 PM]

Like during the gold rush period, it looks like there is more money to make selling tools (or reports now) than searching for gold (next youtube...).

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