What Does Web 2.0 Mean To You?

I have been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking and trying to decide what exactly Web 2.0 means. What massive advancement in an emerging technology called the internet advocates an increment in major version number?

Some people say its the looks. The new feel of the internet with crazy CSS and rounded corners and a lighter more airy feeling. I don’t think that’s it.

Some people say that its the AJAX layer that has been added to the internet. This refers to the layer of interactivity a page web page can give you. I don’t think it’s this either.

But this is a technical blog, so one might be expecting a technical answer, right? Well, it’s not always technical. In my opinion, the term Web 2.0 basically encompasses 2 ideas:

  1. Search
  2. Low barrier to entry

I heard an interesting quote a while back (that I don’t know who said it), “The internet is like a library where all the books are strewn on the floor.” This is a reference to the internet of old with lots of unindexed and unsearchable pages. Yahoo! was around, but had very little of the internet indexed. Then along came the “big bad” Google and indexed much of the web and made is massively searchable. All of a sudden, the average person could find what they need. Not only could they find what they needed, but they could also find what they want. And best of all, they could find it quickly. And human nature is always, I want what I want and I want it now.

But that’s not all that happened. The other big ticket item is that not only could the average person find what they want quickly, but they could contribute. They could contribute their knowledge to Wikipedia, their photos to Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, and Picasa, and their ideas to blogs, micro-blogs, and podcasts. And to circle back to reason number one; it’s all indexed, searchable, and easy to find. Now there are many search engines and many methods for people to share their ideas and find others who share their views and opinions.

All these ideas bring the world closer together. That, in my mind, allows a major version number bump. What does Web 2.0 mean to you? Do you think that the version number bump is premature or unwarranted?

Posted in Musings. Tags: , . 4 Comments »
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  • Niall

    While it's far easier to point to examples of web 2.0 than to accurately describe what it is, I like to think of web 2.0 as the point we reached when it became possible to build complete applications using native web technologies (html, css, javascript) and run them entirely inside the browser. The really big thing about all of this is that the applications themselves could communicate with each other, again only using native web technologies.

  • Niall

    While it's far easier to point to examples of web 2.0 than to accurately describe what it is, I like to think of web 2.0 as the point we reached when it became possible to build complete applications using native web technologies (html, css, javascript) and run them entirely inside the browser. The really big thing about all of this is that the applications themselves could communicate with each other, again only using native web technologies.

  • HeinenCreative

    Web 2.0 for me means a more user-centered and flexible medium. Like you said, people can publish their opinions easily using blogs, upload photographs on Flickr and network on Facebook. The web is no longer a means of simply displaying information, it is becoming a platform with unlimited potential for applications. As the web continues to advance, I feel web applications will take an even more dominant role in our lives over native applications.