Web 2.0: Like a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.

For those of you who aren't familiar with my antics, I'm a regular over at Joel On Software. I participate in the forums, attempt to share something of value occassionally, and generally agitate the natives. I happen to respect what Joel Spolsky says even when I think he's wrong... but when he's right, he normally knocks it out of the park. And he was 100% right in his discussion of the Web 2.0 Hype in Architecture Astronauts Are Back.

I started CaseySoftware, LLC almost a year ago now. I was miserable at a deadend job and saw numerous opportunities arising. As a result, I took the leap and started doing it fulltime. The first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of money being thrown around and much of it at fundamentally stupid ideas. My first impulse was to trumpet the year that I had been doing AJAX and cash in but then I realized something... If our projects and by extension our customers were going to survive the next bust, there had to be something more.

So I try to take a very pragmatic view of the tools:

AJAX? Nifty stuff. I can do it, but I purposely don't unless it makes sense.

Ruby on Rails? I've watched the demo and it is hands down an impressive little framework. Have I had a chance to use it? No. Am I going to explicitly work for a reason to use it? Not likely.

XML I've been doing XML so long that it all seems boring. Do I think it can solve a few problems? Definitely. Is it a Silver bullet? Not a chance.

Blogging I have been a huge proponent of blogging for a few years now but I didn't actually start one until 11 months ago. Do I think it's going to revolutionize the way people think, act, and communicate? Maybe, once blogs are more widely read, but it's impossible to claim that bloggers have not already had an effect on the rest of the world.

So what is my point here? Yes, there are nifty things out there and available to developers, businesses, etc, but very few of them are new. They've managed to come together at a time and with a few key influential people pushing them, they've become the latest and greatest toys out there. If you're trying to base a business on one or many of these things without having something fundamentally useful which people are willing to pay for underneath, you're going to be going through Bust 2.0 when the time comes.

This was summed up for me when I was at the PHP in Business conference a couple weeks back. I was speaking with a gentleman from Interakt whom I'd previously met at CFUnited last year and he was dumbstruck by a conversation he had just had. One of the seemingly clueful attendees asked him if their tools were "Web 2.0 compatible".

I've talked about this before here and here.

Well...

I don't know, but I told him that he should have said "Yes, we were 84% Web 2.0 compatible but with our last update we become the only 100% Web 2.0 compatible system out there."

Then again, I can sometimes be more sarcastic than most.