Bubble 2.0 Watch: He Said Thought Leaders

web20Om Malik says that the thought leaders (a new “pre-owned car” word for my dictionary of needlessly fancy terms), along with investors and pundits, have lately begun to wonder about the whole Web 2.0 business.

Proving that thought leaders have been reading blogs for months, a “well known angel investor,” which I believe is a nice word for a rich guy who swoops down like an angel from heaven and tosses some cash at whatever science project turned business grabs his fancy in exchange for the possibility to get even richer by later selling said project to either Yahoo or some poor smuck in an IPO, wrote, according to Om, “that many of the Web 2.0 companies that were cropping up were targeting a niche audience. He found that many were me-too or forgettable permutations of some of the more established players such as Flickr, You Tube or Digg.”

Ya think? I and a bunch of other average Joes must be thought leaders too, since we have been saying that for months.

Om, who is generally on the money about things technological, goes on to talk about scalability and Web 2.0, arguing that eventually some of the advances that are being made in the Web 2.0 arena will find their way into the enterprise applications that run big business, sort of the way NASA’s velcro found its way onto my 4 year old’s tennis shoes.

Maybe. Eventually. But most big business is running enterprise applications that are 2 or 3 versions old, so Om and I will be retired before the benefitted versions find their way onto most corporate desktops. By then my grandkids will be hoping to get links from Om’s grandkids.

I continue to think that too many people are trying to stuff business, hobbies, old media and blogs into the same bag. I don’t know if it’s a mass scam in the making or if people who are used to writing about business and old media are just writing about what they know.

What I do know is that to judge success you have to start with perspective.

As Dave Winer points out, TechCrunch’s 53,000 or so subscribers is huge in blogosphere terms. 53,000 viewers would be a gigantic bomb if it were a TV show, which is measured in old media terms. Similarly, a Web 2.0 application that has a million users at $0 a month makes a lot less profit than my blog, which makes very little, but costs almost nothing to operate.

You can’t measure success in raw numbers. And you can’t judge a blog by old media standards.

Blogs are not businesses, no matter how many people try to pretend they are. A part of a business, yes. The business, no.

Similarly, most of these Web 2.0 applications are not businesses. A part of a business, yes (thus the sell to Yahoo business plan). But still not the business.

I think there are a lot of people trying to stuff a lot of square pegs in the old and familiar round holes.

As soon as they realize that won’t work, we’ll step back, get some perspective and see where we are.