Just four short years ago, I was a wee troll of a man. At 75 years old, 345 pounds and 4'6", I hobbled through the streets of New York cursing at others as I commuted from the storage shed where I lived to the utility closet at Advertising Age, where they put my desk. Also, I had cancer -- of the body. Yes, my entire body was one big tumor.
Then Web 2.0 came into my life. Until then, I'd just been coasting along with Web 1.0. To think I never would have embraced Web 2.0 if it hadn't been for a handful of dedicated bloggers and boosters. I resisted at first. Why get bogged down in another distraction, something that adds another layer of work to everyday life yet provides no tangible monetary or social benefits? But they showed me I was wrong, that my response was simply fear and a lack of understanding. So what if they were trying to make a quick buck convincing others that Web 2.0 was the answer to all their problems?
You know what? Web 2.0 is the answer to all your problems. It certainly answered all of mine. I wasn't on MySpace two minutes before I felt this tingling in my spine, a ringing in my ears. And no, it wasn't because my cousin had personalized his profile with a flashing purple-and-gold strobe and a blaring soundtrack courtesy of Korn. It was because my spine was realigning!
Thanks to a steady diet of Lolcat building and YouTube commenting, 95% of my cancer has been eradicated. An active Twitter life -- Ken is watching "House"; Ken is watching "Fringe"; Ken is watching "The Girl With Giant Legs" -- also added a full six inches to my stature.
Then came Facebook. Thanks to Facebook, I can now check my e-mail to find out that I've received a message, then go to Facebook to read that message and reply to it there. Before I had to communicate via e-mail (or, worse, the phone). Thanks to Facebook, I overcame the cancer, shed the extra pounds and grew another six inches.
And sure, my wife and I found one another via an online dating site. But does that count as Web 2.0? Or Web 1.0? I don't know.
But I do know this. Until we both embraced the power of search, ours was a shadow of a marriage -- maybe one of those civil union things that politicians allow gays to participate in. After applying a little SEO to the marriage, it's been fireworks ever since. Remember that "Bob" guy from those Enzyte commercials? My smile is twice as big as his! (I'd tell you what widgets have done for us, but I'm trying to keep this PG-13.)
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Sure, Ken, we all know the healing powers of Web 2.0. But how did you get rich? Not even Zuckerberg has figured out how to monetize this thing. No one's cracked the Twitter code."
I've got two words for you: Second. Life.
I'd love to say I took to Second Life like a duck to water, but a codger like me needs some practice in these brave new worlds. After two months of getting a hang of the controls, I was able to walk and sit and talk in Second Life almost as well as I do in dull real life. But Second Life allowed me to do so much more than the real world -- and I'm not just talking about mid-air hookups with hot virtua-chicks with feathers. In Second Life, I was an entrepreneur. I opened up a high-class fashion outlet and am now a virtual millionaire.
Sure, my USAA checking account still approaches zero at least once a month, but I'm sure it won't be long before those predictions of 80% of adults having a Second Life come true. And then the banks will have no choice but to realize my Linden currency is just as good as real cash.
You naysayers can laugh all you want. You're just troglodytes caught up in old-word illusions like "ROI" and "profit" and "sales." You probably scoffed at pioneering technologies such as Betamax, CueCat and Friendster, too, didn't you? You talk trash about Web 2.0 and we'll use the power of social media to bankrupt you just like we did Pepsi and Motrin!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a search engine that needs optimizing -- if you catch my meaning.
Ken can be reached at Ad Age, 711 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017 (or via twitter.com/kenwheaton ... or Facebook ... or firstname.lastname@example.org).