All I Really Need to Know About Web 2.0

One of my graduate students, Heather Buffkin, a kindergarten teacher at Mechanicsville Elementary School, found a 2006 blog post from Nellie Lide that I think captures the heart of what Web 2.0 is all about – from a very unique perspective. It is worth repeating:

Fulghum's Book

I was in the library yesterday just looking around and I came across a copy of Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. And I remembered how much I loved the title essay. As I read it again there in the stacks, it struck me how his rules of living are also true about what tech people and others call Web 2.0. I’ve read various explanations and definitions of Web 2.0 and it always seems complicated – but if you put it in Fulghum’s terms, it becomes understandable.

So here’s my explanation of Web 2.0 for regular folks like me:


Share everything. This to me is the most important part of Web 2.0 – or of the web in general. Share your pictures, share your life, share your knowledge, your expertise. Freely given and happily taken. It’s what I love best about the Internet, so many people want to share.

Play fair. – There’s an innocent spirit about the Internet that I love – like when you were in school and you got into trouble for something you didn’t do and your classmate came up to you later and said “That’s not fair,” – they understood. But when you expressed that feeling to your parents, the answer was inevitably, “Sometimes life isn’t fair.” Well guess what, it should be fair. And bloggers and podcasters and social network members want it to be fair, and they actually try to make it fair.

Don’t hit people. This is a good rule. Sometimes I read about a blogger feud and I think, “grow up” – but maybe I mean “go back to kindergarten.”

Put things back where you found them. What I love about blogs is that you can take other’s ideas, like I’ve done today, give credit where it’s due (putting things back) and still take it forward.

Clean up your own mess. Web 2.0 companies constantly release beta versions and make sure others know there might be a mess, but they’ll be right there to clean it up with their users/customers. Along with Tim O’Reilly’s notion of the Perpetual Beta, is the unspoken promise, we’re here for you and we’ll help with both our messes and yours.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Here we get into Intellectual Property notions – but let’s be honest – it’s easy. If it’s not your work; don’t say it is, go back to giving credit where it’s due. If it’s not your picture, and the photographer didn’t say you could use it, don’t. This is why YouTube may not flourish. But it’s also why Creative Commons was born, and why so many Flickr members share.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Openness and transparency are the order of the day on Web 2.0 – if you hurt someone, or make a mistake, then admit it and apologize.

Wash your hands before you eat. Make sure you have security systems in place, both for you and your customers. And for all you spammers and sploggers out there, don’t infect us. See Play Fair above.

Flush. Don’t forget to get rid of the crap – a lot of web 2.0 is flushing old notions and refilling the tank with refreshing new ideas.

Warm cookies and milk are good for you. This is a given.

Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. So many Web 2.0 companies make it easier for you to do these things. But also remember that, to paraphrase Sir Kenneth Robinson, your body is more than just a transportation system for your head.

Take a nap every afternoon. This is also a given.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. I’m still trying to find my way in the blog world, but there are people, who may not know it (or may because of links), whose hands I hold as I go along: Susan Getgood, John Wagner, Pete Blackshaw, David Armano, Anita Campbell, Kevin Dugan, Kathy Sierra, Dan Pink, Peter Davidson, Jill Fallon, and Sivaraman Swaminathan…to name just a few.

Be aware of wonder…with web 2.0 – Wonder-filled things are everywhere you look. When someone shares a photo like this one from The Washington Post, you can’t help but be aware of wonder. (Yes I realize I might have violated Don’t Take Things That Aren’t Yours, but I did give the Post credit and it is so cute.)

Now don’t you want to be part of Web 2.0?

Posted by Nellie Lide on October 05, 2006 at 01:39 PM


Heather thought that this was a great explanation and as a kindergarten teacher herself, it helped demystify this term for her. Two years later, this explanation still works.

I’m off for warm cookies and milk!

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