Web 2.0, a definition of sorts  AUG 03 2006

37signals recently polled the customers of their online project management application and one of the questions asked what Web 2.0 meant to them. They've posted 500 answers to that question on their site; it's an interesting read. I decided to do a quick and dirty analysis of the most frequently used words by the respondents, hoping that the result would provide a collective definition of sorts for the term Web 2.0. By the time I'd finished (with several timeouts and distractive blog-related detours), I went back to the thread and saw that Jacob Kaplan-Moss had already completed an analysis. Here are his top 15 words:

web - 348
ajax - 107
applications - 93
new - 78
user - 71
apps - 44
desktop - 40
sites - 37
people - 36
internet - 36
content - 34
think - 33
software - 31
services - 30
technologies - 29

Just for kicks, here's my top 30:

web: 347
ajax: 105
more: 99
applications: 92
new: 77
user: 69
use: 47
apps: 43
desktop: 39
sites: 38
internet: 35
people: 35
content: 33
think: 32
software: 30
using: 30
etc: 29
services: 29
next: 28
technologies: 28
interactive: 28
generation: 27
application: 25
marketing: 25
websites: 23
better: 23
social: 23
users: 22
hype: 22
buzzword: 21
interfaces: 20

For some reason (my shoddy programming skills are a likely culprit), my word counts are slightly different than Jacob's, but they're close. I also left in a few words that he removed but that I thought were relevant, like "more", "use", "using", and "etc". Here are a few more interesting words and their frequency counts:

community: 17
collaboration: 13
companies: 13
bubble: 10
ruby: 9
rounded: 9
gradients: 8
rails: 7
37signals: 6
tagging: 6
flickr: 5
wikis: 5
overused: 5
o'reilly: 5
hyped: 5
overhyped: 5

Not sure this provides much of a definition, but it's fun to play around with.

Big ol' obvious caveat: I performed a straight-up word frequency analysis which did not take into account the context of particular words (e.g. no distinction between different uses of words like "think": "I think Web 2.0 sucks" and "Web 2.0 products make users think"), phrase frequency ("web 2.0", "next generation", "rounded corners"), or anything like that. This obviously limits the utility of the analysis; hence "quick and dirty".

Update: Perhaps a better "definition" of Web 2.0 comes from the related tags at del.icio.us:

ajax
tools
web
blog
webdesign
software
design
social
programming
javascript
business

Not bad.

Update: del.icio.us did this analysis back in November 2005. (thx, maciej)

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
37signals   language   Web 2.0

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