Developer 2.0: Gung-Ho or Ho Hum?

Despite the buzz around the new technologies, programmers have been collaborating for years.

SAN FRANCISCO-Developers are not new to the world of collaboration and other so-called Web 2.0 activities, as generations have long had to "collaborate" to build systems.

The Web 2.0 Expo held here April 22-25 was essentially a social networking love fest, with Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media and coiner of the term "Web 2.0," giving a rarified sermon from his very own Web 2.0 pulpit. Like a preacher, O'Reilly exhorted the Web 2.0 faithful to ride the Web 2.0 wave to change the world.


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In an April 23 talk about "Changing the World, Web 2.0 Style," O'Reilly told a rapt audience to "think about what really matters. ... What are the deep trends driving Web 2.0?" Among those trends, O'Reilly identified: the Internet as the platform, harnessing collective intelligence, data as the "Intel Inside," software above the level of a single device, software as a service, and cloud computing.

O'Reilly was part preacher, part enabler and part hustler. Not a hustler in any negative sense, but more like a hip-hip or basketball court hustler-he knew he had to give his constituents what they came for. And he did, causing Web 2.0 entrepreneur Max Levchin, who followed O'Reilly on stage, to ask, "How do you follow that?"

But while Web 2.0-ism is catching on like wildfire in consumer circles and trying to push into enterprises for various purposes, what impact, if any, is it having on developers who have long used collaborative technologies to get their work done?

Are developers gung-ho or ho hum about Web 2.0?

It seems the feeling is pretty mixed, with some saying they simply dislike the term, but they like and use the basic tenets and some of the technology.

"You're correct that developers were already doing the collaboration thing long before consumers," said Chuck Esterbrook, a Los Angeles-based developer and creator of the open-source Cobra language. "SourceForge is a good example of that. And wikis gained traction with developers before consumers. Even before the Web, there were development servers running source control, FTP, Gopher, etc. Developers will always vary in their opinions, but my impression is that they have been kind of 'ho hum' about it as a general thing. When they do get excited, it's about a specific site they're building and what they envision it doing down the road. Sure, that incorporates the so-called 'Web 2.0' concepts, but it would have anyway even without the label."