Borges, Facebook, and the Web 2.0 Rorschach Test

There is a lengthy and well-done John Cassidy article on Facebook in the current issue of the New Yorker. It contains the following keeper of a quote from venture guy Jim Breyer of Accel Partners:

“[Facebook cannot be bracketed: that is its power. When I sit down with Donald Graham [of the Washington Post] as I did recently, he thinks of Facebook as a next-generation media business. When I sit down in Arkansas with Wal-Mart executives and show them Facebook, they think of it as a phenomenal e-commerce opportunity. And when I sit down with Apple Computer and RealNetworks they think of it as an entertainment site.”

This is an unholy rhetorical cross between vintage Borges and a late-90s dot-com puff-piece. What a wonderful example of the Rorschach test that is Web 2.0.

Q: What is Web 2.0?
A: Whatever you want it to be.


  1. Who gives a damn what WaPo, Walmart, and Apple think of Facebook. There are only two questions that matter:
    1) what do users think of facebook
    2) how does it make money
    This is just a case of ask-a-stupid-question, get-a-stupid-answer.

  2. Brent Buckner says:

    As tradition would have it:
    Q: What is Web 2.0?
    A: Mu.

  3. Franklin Stubbs says:

    Wouldn’t versatility be a strength of facebook rather than a weakness?
    It seems logical that the more money-making opportunities an enterprise has, the better its odds of long term success. If their strength is delivering a massive audience of high school and college kids, there are all kinds of ways you can slice and dice that.
    These guys sound like next generation MTV for the web–a fat marketing pipe with all kinds of cross applications, assuming no one comes along and takes their audience away. Not sure what that has to do with Web 2.0 except for the fact that trashing Web 2.0 is currently the hip thing to do… perhaps the cynicism is getting a bit overdone?