TechCrunch, a blog about new Internet products and companies, is one of many online sources that have been buzzing this week about Go2Web20.net. Designed by a couple of talented Israelis, Orli Yakuel and Eyal Shahar, Go2Web20 is a Flash page that displays logos and information about Web 2.0 companies. (Caveat: the page can be slow to load.) I counted 233 logos on the page, but it's updated periodically, so my tally may be off.
What is Web 2.0? In the Sept. 18 issue of Information Week, writer George Jones defined it this way: "all the Web sites out there that get their value from the actions of users." That definition comprises quite a few "old" companies such as eBay and Amazon that depend heavily on customer reviews.
My examination of the Go2Web20 line-up strongly suggests:
1. The elevator pitch for 90 percent of these companies is: "Give us your favorite web sites and we'll put them in one place." Wow. Life-changing!
2. Ninety-nine percent of these companies won't be around in 2008.
3. The names of most Web 2.0 companies are derivative, poorly constructed, and just plain silly.
Here's my semi-scientific analysis of the names on the list:
1. OO, baby, baby: Names with multiple o's lead the pack. The rundown: Ookles, Boompa, Springdoo, Zoom.info, Qoop, Loopt, Favoor, Goowy, Kaboodle, Zooomer (that's three o's), Tagtooga, Squidoo, Froogle, Gumshoo, and Doostang. Yes, I felt stupid just typing them. The thinking here is pretty transparent: It worked for Google and Yahoo; ergo, me too. (Or even tooo.) Bad reasoning. It worked for Google and Yahoo because (a) those words communicated actual stories, and (b) they got there first.
2. EE--it's more than a shoe width: Double-e names come in second. (Is there something about "2.0" that not-so-subliminally suggests vowel pairs? In Web 1.0, by contrast, the "e" stood alone and preceded the name--eHarmony, eOpinions, etc.) Besides Meebo and its siblings--MeeboMe, GoMeebo--there are Imbee, Weekemor, Meez, Zingee, Gravee, Askeet, and Skobee. Feedster and FeedFeeds also qualify. That long "e" sound is phonetically "light": It lacks the impact of a broad or short vowel (eh, ah). Try saying "Meebo." Your mouth is forced into a Wallace-like rictus: lips parted, teeth exposed. (Wallace's creator, Nick Park, once said that he decided to give the character a love of cheese because saying "cheese" made Wallace's mouth look so funny.)
3. Waaah! Baby talk is distressingly prevalent on the list. Consider Jajah, My-Me, Blish, Mabber, Simpy, Bloggoggle, Blummy, DimDim, and Guba. Somebody needs a time-out. Or a nap.
4. Vowl defct dsordr. Blame Flickr for this particular trend, represented by Frappr, Preloadr, Blogr, Weekendr, and Resizr. Omitting a vowel can make it easier to secure a Web domain. And it can suggest compression and speed. But it's beginning to connote "copycat."
Is there any good news on the Naming 2.0 front? A little. I like the name Tabblo, although the site itself is a pedestrian photo-and-caption mashup. SingShot is a clever name for a site that allows you to listen to songs and record your own. (Just what the world needs: more bad music.) And CoComment is both a clear, appealing name and an interesting way to keep track of your online conversations. (But it doesn't work on TypePad.)
Overall, though, I'm seeing a lot of weak naming efforts by amateurs--and a whole lot of redundancy in business models. Just like the worst of Web 1.0. Doubled.