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And yet, oddly enough, Ryan Singel's article about the conference in Wired News spoke of "throngs of geeks." When a friend of mine asked Ryan about this, it was news to him. Even Tim O'Reilly was wearing a suit, a sight so alien I couldn't parse it at first.

He said he'd originally written something like "throngs of VCs and biz dev guys" but had later shortened it just to "throngs," and that this must have in turn been expanded by the editors into "throngs of geeks." After all, a Web 2.0 conference would presumably be full of geeks, right? I saw him walk by and said to one of the O'Reilly people "that guy looks just like Tim.""Oh, that's Tim.

Whatever it meant, "the web as a platform" was at least not too constricting.

The story about "Web 2.0" meaning the web as a platform didn't live much past the first conference.

Till recently I thought it didn't, but the truth turns out to be more complicated. I first heard the phrase "Web 2.0" in the name of the Web 2.0 conference in 2004.

It was a kind of semantic deficit spending: they knew new things were coming, and the "2.0" referred to whatever those might turn out to be. In the process of developing the pitch for the first conference, someone must have decided they'd better take a stab at explaining what that "2.0" referred to.

Democracy The second big element of Web 2.0 is democracy.

We now have several examples to prove that amateurs can surpass professionals, when they have the right kind of system to channel their efforts. Experts have given Wikipedia middling reviews, but they miss the critical point: it's good enough.

One ingredient of its meaning is certainly Ajax, which I can still only just bear to use without scare quotes.

Basically, what "Ajax" means is "Javascript now works." And that in turn means that web-based applications can now be made to work much more like desktop ones.