What is Web 2.0?

Category: Cool-Stuff

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 and beyond... the future of the Web

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...

 
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Most recent comments on "What is Web 2.0?"

Posted by:

David
07 Mar 2007

Wearable computing has been in development for quite some time. Every so often you see a sampling of some of it. The heads-up display that floats in the air in front of you. The virtual keyboard that senses your movements on a projected image on a desktop. Voice commands that actually work. In other words - the virtualization of both the software AND the hardware.

Think this is distant? You make use of virtualization regularly. Server technology can now shift an overloaded server to other gear automatically in a couple of seconds. The entire OS and server applications are virtualized. And you don't even know it. You've been able to run Windows on a Mac the same way for years.

Another aspect of the web evolution you don't touch on here is the migration of applications from the desktop to the Internet. Citrix and thin client are technologies that place the applications remotely for network access. Web mail has become a common form of email client. Some of Googles recent offerings like Writely and Microsoft's OneCare also point this way. (Microsoft has been working on this direction since they licensed Terminal Services from Citrix - for over a decade) Think application "rental" rather than purchase, pay by usage. Movies too. So both content and applications. This is big stuff and allows portability we're just beginning to see - call up your work on your palm, glasses, or fridge for example. Whatevers best at the time.

This is part of the reason some are saying Vista may be Microsoft's last OS - at least in the way we've known it. And to think Mr. Gates almost missed the Internet...


Posted by:

Freesitebuilder
07 Mar 2007

A great article - the clearest explanation I've read of Web 2.0. But ... "Who knows... perhaps even your body will be wired in to a virtual reality that makes the Matrix seem less like fiction." That's the most terrifying sentence I've ever seen in many years of internet use!


Posted by:

Bob Deloyd
03 Apr 2007

I spend to much time online with my laptop already and don't want to wear it on my body! Some folks may disagree with the term Web2.0. And there still is some debate on what it really is, but I agree the term isn't important, you could call it Betelgeuse 3.2 for that matter, but the change is real. Web2.0 is the term I'll use because there's no better way to articulate what this change really is. Nice article and a good examples!!


Posted by:

JET
21 Apr 2008

I've been experimenting with various collaboration & document sharing tools and have discovered an excellent site. It is a very user friendly, web-based application that is well worth taking the time to explore. Take a few minutes and look at Projjex.com. The tutorials are excellent & you don't need to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out how to use it. It even offers a free version so you can try it on for size.


Posted by:

ChuckinNJ
28 Sep 2010

I liked the article, but to the young person who said they wanted to know how web 2.0 was different than the one Al Gore invented. Al Gore Did not invent it. It was invented by a group of Scientists who need to communicate.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Just kidding about the Al Gore thing!


Posted by:

web design perth
07 Jun 2011

it also encourages them to upload and share their data with the larger Internet community.they provide
interaction between users.

web design perth


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