"...insofar as cycles are meaningful, all science that has been developed in the absence of cycle knowledge is inadequate and partial. Thus, if cyclic forces are real, any theory of economics, or sociology, or history, or medicine, or climatology that ignores non-chance rhythms is manifestly incomplete, as medicine was before the discovery of germs." - Edward R. Dewey
Cycles are pervasive. No matter what you choose to study, if you look hard enough, a cycle will present itself. Web 2.0 is no different. As early as 1995, the concept of the Web becoming an operating platform made itself known. Benjamin Slivka referred to it in his May '95 memo to Bill Gates, warning him that the Internet may make Windows obsolete.
In 2004, Tim O'Reilly launches the first Web 2.0 conference with the tagline "The Web as Platform". In fact, it's O'Reilly executive Dale Dougherty who is credited with coining the term "Web 2.0".
A true cycle will reveal historical benchmarks that coincide with specific points of the circle. There will be a clear starting point, an opposition point, and a return to the starting point, or, in this case, a harmonic return (i.e., one octave higher). There may also be benchmarks that represent quarter-points, posing conflict or challenge to the evolution of the cycle as a whole.
The starting point of the current Web 2.0 cycle must be the starting point of the Internet boom itself - the dramatic and hugely successful IPO of Netscape Communications August 10, 1995.
1st Quarter-Point: 3 years later, on September 7, 1998, Google, Inc. was incorporated. This event represents a quarter-point in the cycle, and considering Google's subsequent role in developing innovative web-based applications like G-mail, Desktop, Google Maps, etc., as well as its apparent interest in challenging Microsoft, it's well-suited to the quarter-point role of agitator.
Opposition-Point: The dot.com crash of 2000 and 2001 marked the opposition point of this 12 year cycle. There's no question that this was a benchmark event for the Internet era. It's effect was devastating and far-reaching, forcing the technology companies that survived to re-examine their Internet strategies.
2nd Quarter-Point: August 19, 2004 - 9 years and 9 days after the Netscape IPO, and six years after its own incorporation, Google went public. Google's power and influence had continued to grow, and its IPO was very successful. Some speculate that a recent partnership with Sun may lead to the creation of Google Office, a true Web 2.0 product that would be aimed directly at stealing marketshare from the industry workhorse Microsoft Office. Whether Google Office becomes a reality or not, Google's on-going and diverse forays into web-based applications has positioned it as a key player in the Web 2.0 arena. Note that both its incorporation as well as its IPO dates are placed squarely in challenge to the start and opposition points of this cycle.
2007 - Microsoft Windows Vista is scheduled to be released on or about December, 2006 but its impact clearly won't be felt until well into 2007. If anything epitomizes the concept of "Web as Platform", it's the promise of Windows Vista, when a typical user, working on his laptop, will have a seamless experience whether he's accessing desktop or web-based applications. The Web 2.0 cycle will have come full circle, albeit a full octave higher then when it started.