In an article with the headline „DIGITAL UTOPIA A new breed of technologists envisions a democratic world improved by the Internet“ Dan Fost writes about the Hippie-esque dream of the social web:

Dubbed Digital Utopians by some, and Web 2.0 innovators by others, this latest wave of tech gurus champion community over commerce, sharing ideas over sharing profits. By using Web sites that stress group thinking and sharing, these Internet idealists want to topple the power silos of Hollywood, Washington, Wall Street and even Silicon Valley. And like countless populists throughout history, they hope to disperse power and control, an idea that delights many and horrifies others.

All very idealistic, and considering the following quote, Web2.0 seems to simply follow on an ageless debate:

The core of the Web 2.0 movement resurrects an age-old debate about governance and democracy, one that was argued by political philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Alexis de Tocqueville: Are the benefits of democracy — taking advantage of what Web 2.0 proponents call the wisdom of the crowds — worth risking the dark side of mob rule?

Tim O’Reilly, who coined the term, doesn’t quite see it that way:

Yet while people, perhaps reacting to the greed that fueled the IPOs of the dot-com years, saw in Web 2.0 a chance to create a new collectivism, O’Reilly said, „I don’t see it that way at all.“

Web 2.0, he says, is about business.

He says many tech movements start out with similar idealism, only to give way to capitalism. For instance, O’Reilly says, Napster introduced file sharing, but now iTunes has people comfortable with paying for music online.

Interesting article
, and an inspiring (yet rather useless) discussion.