What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a term that has existed since 2004. The phrase is now widely used by anyone who works on or with the Internet, but Web 2.0 is one of those expressions that many business people outside the Internet industry only “sort-of” understand.

Web 2.0To understand Web 2.0, you first have to be familiar with Web 1.0. Web 1.0 is the Web as it existed up to and immediately after the Internet bubble burst in 2000. Web 1.0 followed the “broadcast model,” meaning that any content that existed on the Web was one-way – the content was written and published by the author (a company or an individual) for the reader. The best way of understanding the broadcast model is: “We talk, you listen.” There are still many sites that are Web 1.0, including most corporate and informational Web sites. Examples include Weather.com and GM.

Web 2.0 was born when the broadcast model started to change to a conversational model.

The hallmarks of Web 2.0 are conversations and user-generated content. Sites that provide technology platforms that allow users to interact and to contribute content are Web 2.0 sites. Examples include Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube and blogs – these sites provide the technology that lets users submit content and interact with each other in various ways, such as by submitting photos and videos, chatting or by commenting on on each others content.

Today, many Web 1.0 sites are moving toward Web 2.0 by launching Web 2.0 features. These sites publish content, but solicit a response from users to further enhance the conversation. For example, retail sites such as Walmart and Target now allow visitors to post reviews of products. Traditional publishing companies like the NY Times have opened up their articles for comments and have discussion areas to facilitate reader interactions.

The following are some of the most useful articles you can read to find out more about Web 2.0:

  • What is Web 2.0- This article by Tim O’Reilly is often sourced as the definitive treatise on Web 2.0.
  • Web 2.0 – This 2005 article was written by Paul Graham, and is a very good explanation of Web 2.0.
  • What is Web 2.0- This 2006 documentary from TechCrunch features Editor Michael Arrington’s interviews with start-up CEOs about Web 2.0. (24 Minutes). The CEO’s definitions of Web 2.0 really illustrate why this term is so difficult to pin down and how everyone defines it a little differently (around minute 5).
  • Web 2.0- The Wikipedia entry about Web 2.0.
  • Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0 – This post will help you understand the differences between 1.0 and 2.0.

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