What exactly is Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is a term which is being used more and more these days but what exactly is it? It seems to be kinda like beauty, in that it is “in the eye of the beholder” – i.e. its definition depends on who you ask.

Obviously it refers to some kind of next version of the web but how is it different and how do I access it? Well the good news is, you don’t have to do anything different to access it, in fact, just by reading this you are using it. Blogs are perceived to be part of Web 2.0!

Om Malik wrote yesterday that Web 2.0 is

a collection of technologies – be it VoIP, Digital Media, XML, RSS, Google Maps… whatever …. that leverage the power of always on, high speed connections and treat broadband as a platform, and not just a pipe to connect

This seems to me to be an overly general interpretation.

I prefer the Wikipedia 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 serving web applications, like Gmail, to end users. The proponents of this thinking expect that ultimately Web 2.0 services will replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.

I was reminded of this definition this morning when I read on Slashdot that there is an

AJAX word processor, AJAX spreadsheet, AJAX calendar, AJAX presentation-building software, AJAX e-mail client, AJAX note-taking software and some other interesting applications, which, deployed on your local server, do not need installation and “just work” in a browser window?

Browser based Office applications? I love it! No installation, zero administration, and minimal training? This has to be an IT Manager’s Nirvana!

Web 2.0 whatever you are, I love you!

I see Tim O’Reilly wrote an interesting article on this topic too.

10 thoughts on “What exactly is Web 2.0”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I think the difficulty in pinning down what Web 2.0 actually is may arise from the fact that it can’t be defined by any single characteristic.

    Maybe it’s got something to do with things like like APIs, Ajax, Rails, blogs, user-generated content, Web OS and folksonomies; or maybe it’s more general than that: it’s adaptation, decentralisation, emergence, openness and distribution; or is it a new attitude towards access to data: a type of mediated ‘open source content’ perhaps?

    In any event, I’d be willing to plumb for Web 2.0 being all of the above… and also a retro-fitted label for something that’s more of an attitude than a technology.

  2. To be honest when I think Web 2.0 I have a much simpler idea. Basically it’s the web working for you and living up to its moniker of being interactive. Things like being able to sign up to hundreds of sites and get content delivered to you rather than visiting each one individually or being able to get your own site in seconds thanks to Blogger means tat people can actual experience the web now.

  3. Tom – thanks for the Setch Godin stuff recently, I had kind of forgotten about him again. Another reason for me to use a desktop feed reader…
    Anyway, he has his own definition of Web 2.0.

    Though to be honest, to me it’s another term like ‘blogosphere’ which is largely useless!

  4. The web 2.0 is / will be semantic, which is what Piaras was saying (I think). Thats the only real difference IMO.

  5. I think the problem with trying to label the changes we have seen in how the web is now starting to be used is that the changes are evolutionary whereas the use of a name like Web 2.0 implies a new version of the web – as such I think it is a confusing monikor.

    Unfortunately however, I don’t have any real alternative suggestion!

  6. I agree with you. But why do we need an alternative suggestion. What’s wrong with the names everybody knows and loves “the web”, “the internerd” etc…

    This whole web 2.0 thing is ridiculous… everytime somebody comes up with something innovative for the interweb they’ll be “ooh ooh we just invented WEB 3.7!!!”

    Hostyle: I too think this is just semantics, and pointless semantics at that.

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