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Web 2.0: A new dot-com bubble in the making?

By Heather Havenstein
March 19, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Joseph Jang, director of marketing at mortgage banking company Liberty Financial Group in Bellevue, Wash., said his company plans to use Zoodango to boost brand recognition to a block of customers the company hasn't reached with more traditional advertising outlets.

The company and its 80-plus loan officers can post profiles on the site to generate leads and interact with users before networking events, he said. "[Social networking] promotes aspects of interaction you haven't had before between consumers and the business," Jang said. "I don't think I fully grasp the potential of the interaction between the two entities. This is a living, breathing thing. It will evolve as it goes along."

Also dipping its toe in the Web 2.0 waters is the Texas state bar, which next month will launch a own branded social network that will let its 80,000 members connect, collaborate and network, said John Sirman, the organization's Web manager. The organization will use technology from Affinity Circles Inc.  to create a private social network that only its members will be able to use.

Attorneys with existing blogs feed them into the community, and members can form themselves into special interest groups to collaborate on specific topics, he said. In addition, a job listing feature will allow users to see if any members of the state bar work at the company advertising, he added.

"We know that a lawyer's business and career depend on networking and connections they have with other people," Sirman said. "I see [the social network] as providing an online venue to do that and met people outside their local circles."

David Kirsch, assistant professor at the University of Maryland and founder of the Business Plan Archives, a historical archive of business plans and other documents from the dot-com era, said the Web 1.0 companies helped ensure the survival of the new firms by helping to put into place an underlying infrastructure to support Web 2.0 technologies.

"You can outsource everything and use Salesforce.com to allow your salespeople to not have to have an office," he said. "There were community sites in Web 1.0 but what is happening here is we now have the simplest infrastructure pieces like broadband.

For the consumers and the people who are participating in Web 2.0 …they have what they need to actually do the things people were just talking about in Web 1.0."

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