Mark Cuban says the Internet is dead and boring, but Fred Wilson says it isn't for him! Who's right? Well, both of them. Let me quickly explain (before you get bored with what is actually a fairly pointless argument). Cuban wrote:
"Some people have tried to make the point that Web 2.0 is proof that the Internet is evolving. Actually it is the exact opposite. Web 2.0 is proof that the Internet has stopped evolving and stabilized as a platform. Its very very difficult to develop applications on a platform that is ever changing. Things stop working in that environment. Internet 1.0 wasn't the most stable development environment. To days Internet is stable specifically because its now boring.(easy to avoid browser and script differences excluded)"
I mostly agree with Cuban on the emphasized point - web 2.0 has provided a stable platform. Indeed Alex Iskold coined a term to describe this, the Digestion Phase of the Internet. According to Alex this is "a period of time for us to reflect, to integrate, and to understand recent technologies and how they fit together."
Fred Wilson responds to Mark Cuban, saying that the Internet is very much alive and well for him:
"My delicious toolbar records my most visited web services. Typepad, Google Finance, Techmeme, Delicious, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, last.fm, hypemachine, yottamusic. I did not use one of those services 5 years ago. Not one of them!"
Which kind of proves Mark Cuban's point - because all of the apps Fred mentioned were built on a relatively stable 'web 2.0' platform. Social networks, RSS, blogging, recommendations, personalization, etc - all of these things define the current Web platform. And they are all relatively stable.
What this tells me is that a) yes the Web 2.0 platform is stable and "boring" (and I agree with the broadband issues Cuban raises, which Don Dodge riffs on), but b) in terms of what's been built on that platform, there are a lot of very exciting apps. And we still have a lot of innovation to explore - e.g. personalization seems to me to be in its early stages, for example Google hasn't even gotten past first base with its considerable personalization efforts this year.
It's steady as she goes - there are no new YouTubes, MySpaces, or other blockbuster web apps on the forseeable horizon. Facebook and Twitter have been the two web products to excite us most this year - but neither are on YouTube or MySpace's scale in terms of being a totally new and ground-breaking product being used by a mass audience. Facebook has eyes on going big mainstream, but it's still only gotten about 1/3 of the user base MySpace has.
So right now, we're in the digestion phase - time to think about how to build on existing apps and integrate technologies. In some ways that makes the Web a little boring, but it also gives many small startups the opportunity to build on a stable platform - which means excitement and a lot of consumer choice (ref Fred's list of apps he uses).
What do R/WW readers think about this - is the Web boring for you?
Top photo: merlinmann, from Web 1.0 Summit 2005