Born from the terminology used to refer to subsequent iterations of computer software, ‘2.0’ made its way toward the mainstream lexicon in 2004, when information technology (IT) developers gathered for the first Web 2.0 Expo. The name of this event, its organizers suggested, reflected a trend whereby the World Wide Web was becoming a computing platform unto itself.
Today, just as the web has come to affect a broader swath of the population, so too has ‘2.0.’ With wider acceptance, however, it has lost what little meaning and context it might previously have earned.
Some uses relate back to Web 2.0, such as ‘Government 2.0’ when referring to the public sector’s adoption of web-based service delivery. Many recent instances have not, including corporate calls for ‘Bailout 2.0’ and the following offender, which appeared in a piece by Tyler Hamilton in The Toronto Star on January 16, 2009:
… a new generation of energy-efficient vehicles, or what some are calling ‘Car 2.0.’
The fact that ‘some’ may be using the term ‘Car 2.o’ is certainly no reason for newspapers to perpetuate it. And it is particularly ironic that the vehicles Hamilton writes about, electric cars, should if anything be called ‘Car 1.0,’ given that the original electric cars predate both gasoline and diesel automobiles.
Indeed, the quiet and smoke-free electric car was reportedly popular with none other than Henry Ford’s wife, Clara Jane Bryant, who no doubt would be amused to hear it now referred to as something new, innovative and so very 2.0.