Web 2.0 Design Patterns (or Principles)

Chris Anderson must think I'm stalking him or something...I keep pointing to his posts. But if he keep writing such great stuff, what else can I do?

Yesterday Chris wrote around how the Long Tail relates to the definition of Web 2.0 (see Tim O'Reilly's take):

"the lack of a crisp definition is a feature, not a bug. And as the world shifts from the limited variety of bottlenecked distribution to the infinite variety of open distribution, there will be more examples of phenomena that are hard to define but are nevertheless real and true. The future is increasingly heterogeneous, not homogeneous. One size doesn't fit all."

He references the Web 2.0 meme map (here's my take on that), and then provides the following Web 2.0 general principles:

Web 2.0 Design Patterns

1) The Long Tail
2) Data is the Next Intel Inside
3) Users Add Value
4) Network Effects by Default
5) Some Rights Reserved.
6) The Perpetual Beta
7) Cooperate, Don't Control
8) Software Above the Level of a Single Device

I love these 'patterns'...His post provides more detail, but this list (and the short descriptions he provides with them) are maybe at first sight obvious to some and meaningless to others. Not to me...I think these are very powerful insights.

They remind me of Kevin Kelly's outstanding New Rules for the New Economy essay outlining his 12 principles of the network economy published in Wired magazine in 1997. This work had a powerful effect on me at the time.

(You'll think I'm crazy now, but Kelly's essay had such an effect that I actually went to evangelize the work at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park. I went along with a milk crate to stand on, a white board, some thick red, blue and black felt-tip pens and my dad' old tweed jacket (I'm not going to explain now...). Richard Latham, my boss at the time joined me to provide the much needed moral support and least a crowd of one. On a crisp Autumn morning in 1997 I presented the 12 principles (or 'laws') of the network economy, not once that day, but twice. The audience included the regulars but were mostly first time tourists who were there to get their taste of eccentric free speech. They were treated to an 'alternative' to their usual diet of religious and political rants served on Sunday mornings. We got a small crowd going, maybe 40 at one point- the occasional heckle, a bit of debate and many a perplexed frown, but it was fun to do. I digress...)

In case you've not come across it, here is a summary of the New Rules for the New Economy (essay is here):

(Twelve dependable principles for thriving in a turbulent world):

    1. The Law of Connection - Embrace the dumb power: Of the collapsing microcosm of chips and the exploding telecosm of connections
    2. The Law of Plentitude - More gives more: Mathematicians have proven that the sum of a network increases as the square of the number of members. In other words, as the number of nodes in a network increases arithmetically, the value of the network increases exponentially.
    3. The Law of Exponential Value - Success is nonlinear: During its first 10 years, Microsoft's profits were negligible. Its profits rose above the background noise only around 1985. But once they began to rise, they exploded.
    4. The Law of Tipping Points - Significance precedes momentum: In epidemiology, the point at which a disease has infected enough hosts that the infection moves from local illness to raging epidemic can be thought of as the tipping point. The contagion's momentum has tipped from pushing uphill against all odds to rolling downhill with all odds behind it. In biology, the tipping points of fatal diseases are fairly high, but in technology, they seem to trigger at much lower percentages of victims or members.
    5. The Law of Increasing Returns - Make virtuous circles: Value explodes with membership, and the value explosion sucks in more members, compounding the result. An old saying puts it more succinctly: Them that's got shall get.
    6. The Law of Inverse Pricing - Anticipate the cheap: Through most of the industrial age, consumers experienced slight improvements in quality for slight increases in price. But the arrival of the microprocessor flipped the price equation. In the information age, consumers quickly came to count on drastically superior quality for less price over time. The price and quality curves diverge so dramatically that it sometimes seems as if the better something is, the cheaper it will cost.
    7. The Law of Generosity - Follow the free: Now, giving away the store for free is an applauded, level-headed strategy that banks on the network's new rules. Because compounding network knowledge inverts prices, the marginal cost of an additional copy (intangible or tangible) is near zero. Because value appreciates in proportion to abundance, a flood of copies increases the value of all the copies. Because the more value the copies accrue, the more desirable they become, the spread of the product becomes self-fulfilling. Once the product's worth and indispensability is established, the company sells auxiliary services or upgrades, enabling it to continue its generosity and maintaining this marvelous circle.
    8. The Law of the Allegiance - Feed the web first: The distinguishing characteristic of networks is that they have no clear center and no clear outer boundaries. The vital distinction between the self (us) and the nonself (them) - once exemplified by the allegiance of the industrial-era organization man - becomes less meaningful in a Network Economy. The only "inside" now is whether you are on the network or off.
    9. The Law of Devolution - Let go at the top: The biological nature of this era means that the sudden disintegration of established domains will be as certain as the sudden appearance of the new. In the Network Economy, the ability to relinquish a product or occupation or industry at its peak will be priceless.
    10. The Law of Displacement - The net wins: The question "How big will online commerce be?" will have diminishing relevance, because all commerce is jumping onto the Internet.
    11. The Law of Churn - Seek sustainable disequilibrium: The Network Economy moves from change to churn. Change, even in its toxic form, is rapid difference. Churn, on the other hand, is more like the Hindu god Shiva, a creative force of destruction and genesis. Churn topples the incumbent and creates a platform ideal for more innovation and birth. It is "compounded rebirth." And this genesis hovers on the edge of chaos.
    12. The Law of Inefficiencies - Don't solve problems: In the Network Economy, productivity is not our bottleneck. Our ability to solve our social and economic problems will be limited primarily by our lack of imagination in seizing opportunities, rather than trying to optimize solutions. In the words of Peter Drucker, as echoed recently by George Gilder, "Don't solve problems, seek opportunities."

Re-reading the above summary today (I love re-visiting old favorite works), I still absolutely believe these ideas still hold true, well after post dotcom bubble. These principles weren't about making money fast or dismissing common sense, they were (and are) profound insights into the dynamics of an increasingly networked social and business environment.

I think Chris Anderson's Web 2.0 principles (or patterns) will be studied, torn and shred to pieces, and supported (there was no blogosphere when Kevin Kelly published NRNE in '97), but it won't be ignored.


"...I'd be curious to see how many people think http://www.myspace.com is a Web 2.0 offerings or not. If not, why not? If so, please tell me why you think all the folks who've called MySpace a Web 2.0 offering are wrong in my comments. For the record, I think it isn't but would like to compare my reasons with those of other people out there."

"Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation," and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences."