Say What: Web 2.0

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like everywhere I turn on the internet these days people are talking about "Web 2.0". Maybe it's just me again because I work in technology, but I'm seeing it more and more in respected publications, and figured that if I was confused, you might benefit from a bit of clarification too.

My first thought was this: Has someone made a second version of the web? Huh? If you too are wondering what all the hype is about, keep reading. With a little background research, this whole Web 2.0 thing is starting to make a whole lot more sense to me, now that I've realised it's already changing the way we live, work, interact with the media and even each other.

To start, a Google definition: "Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform servicing web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing for many purposes."

Alright, thanks Google. That helps a bit, but it's still not crystal clear.

Maybe a little history will help. The "Web 2.0" term was initially coined during a brainstorming session for a 2004 internet conference. Convened in the 'nuclear winter' shadow of the dot com technology recession, conference creators decided that the web has far from "crashed"; rather it is becoming more important than ever with exciting and influential applications continually coming into play. To them, Web 2.0 was a way to describe the fact that the web matters again and that things have changed since the heady days of the late 90s.

So simply put, Web 2.0 is the next big technology revolution, a transition from static HTML websites to web applications. A sign the Internet has finally come of age; matured enough to have businesses safely and effectively thrive online.

But from what I've read, Web 2.0 isn't exactly new. According to some the burst of the dot-com bubble back in 2001 was the official Web 2.0 start, signifying this next generation of online technology.

While I may be confusing you even more, I've discovered there's no real agreed Web 2.0 definition. Tim O'Reilly, one of the people involved in originally coining the term, has outlined some common characteristics of Web 2.0 companies on his website www.oreillynet.com. This helped clear up a couple questions in my mind!

  • Web as a platform: Software value is proportional to the scale and dynamism of the data it helps to manage. Take Netscape and Google for example. Netscape was part of the old software paradigm, Web 1.0, and used its dominance in the browser market to establish a market for high-priced server products. Google, part of Web 2.0, never sold its web application, rather delivered it as a service with customers paying directly or indirectly for use of the service. In this era software licensing is irrelevant because software only needs to be performed, not distributed.
  • Harnessing Collective Intelligence: Web 2.0 focuses on bringing people together to interact intelligently

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