What is Web 2.0?
I keep seeing articles that mention something called Web 2.0, but they never give a good definition. What is Web 2.0? How is it different than the one Al Gore invented, and when is Web 3.0 coming?
Web 2.0 Defined
The phrase Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of web based services which focus on online collaboration and sharing among users. This includes services such as blogs, podcasting, wikis, social networking sites, tagging and social bookmarking. The phrase Web 2.0 is derived from a longstanding practice in the software industry to name each major release of a product with version numbers.
Prior to the development of Web 2.0 technology, internet usage was largely one sided. The companies that owned the web sites posted the data on their web sites and the interested users accessed the data. Interaction between users was restricted to chat and emails. Setting aside all kidding about Al Gore, the phrase Web 2.0 refers to a shift from one-to-many web services where large media companies had dominance, to a brave new world in which anyone can be a publisher, or at least a participant.
Characteristics of Web 2.0 Applications
A Web 2.0 technology will have certain characteristics. To start with, it will use the network as a platform for delivering applications, entirely through a browser. It not only delivers data to users, it also encourages them to upload and share their data with the larger Internet community. Here are some examples of websites which exemplify Web 2.0 technologies:
- File Sharing: Peer-to-peer file sharing services such as LimeWire and BitTorrent allow users to make their own content available without setting up a website. Unfortunately, it also opens the floodgate to massive content piracy in the music, video and software arenas...
- Blogs: Weblogs or blogs, as they are popularly called, are user maintained online journals. Free and user-friendly software has spawned the creation of hundreds of thousands of personal and business blogs. In addition to AskBobRankin, other popular blogs include Engadget, Boing Boing, The Huffington Post, and PostSecret.
- Social Networking: As the name implies, these sites provide a way to meet interesting people, develop networks of friends or business associates, and share personal information. Popular social networking services include Myspace, LiveJournal, Facebook and others.
- Wikis: Web sites which let the users add, delete, or change content. This allows mass authorship of content and makes large volume of content available to masses. The best-known example is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia created entirely from user submitted content.
- Podcasts: Podcasts are the distribution of media files over the internet using syndication feeds for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. The content can be news broadcasts, audio commentary on almost any topic, film or book reviews, or video content. Some popular podcasts are BBC Today, Science Friday and Ask a Ninja.
- RSS Feeds: RSS Feeds are typically used to syndicate blog content and inform readers when new postings are made.
- Others: Other notable examples of sites that rely on user-generated content are auction king eBay, the popular classified ad site CraigsList, social bookmarking at Del.icio.us and Flickr for sharing photos.
Web 3.0 - The Future of the Web
Like everything on the internet, Web 2.0 is evolving fast. Already pundits are speculating as to what the nature of the future web will be. It's very likely that Web 3.0 will offer more than just file sharing, user-submitted content and online collaboration. It will touch many different areas of your life, spreading from the computer to your television set, your car, appliances, and your home. Who knows... perhaps even your body will be wired in to a virtual reality that makes the Matrix seem less like fiction.
Got comments about the future of the Web? Post your thoughts below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 18 Feb 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What is Web 2.0? (Posted: 18 Feb 2007)
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