Stewart Butterfield is one of the co-founders of Flickr, which is a photo sharing site that has been the subject of a near-absolute love-fest among geeky types for years. It has become one of the most cited examples of Web 2.0. I use it everyday and so do my friends. Flickr does do so, so many things right. Anyway, Stewart was interviewed by CNN recently. (watch Video with different content)
My favorite answer from the interview:
CNN: What's the key to making online communities work?
A lot of our success came from George, the lead designer, and Caterina. Both of them spent a lot of time in the early days greeting individual users as they came in, encouraging them and leaving comments on their photos. There was a lot of dialogue between the people who were developing Flickr and their users to get feedback on how they wanted Flickr to develop. That interaction made the initial community very strong and then that seed was there for new people who joined to make the community experience strong for them too.
My least favorite:
CNN: How can big business benefit from Web 2.0?
Butterfield: I'm not sure there's any clear path for them to benefit but we're starting to see more and more talk of Web 2.0 in the enterprise business press. A lot of it is not about the application of any special technology; it's just common sense and obvious ways of making things better.
I think he's basically saying that it depends on the business and the influence of Web 2.0 is too broad to define a clear path for everyone. However, here is how I might have answered instead:
Web 2.0 means that barriers have been lowered on the Internet and new opportunities to work with real customers are sprouting every day, just as I (Stewart) mentioned above. Big businesses won't succeed or fail because of the Web 2.0-ness of their web site. What will make the biggest difference is how businesses react to the changing expectations of customers who have new power online thanks to changing perceptions about the Web. The benefit comes from turning these new kinds of customer relationships into a competitive advantage. The business who gets closest to the customer wins. One of the reasons for the hype is that Web 2.0 is all about enabling these new relationships to happen.