Web 2.0 – what does it mean?

When I first heard the term Web 2.0 I wondered what the heck was all this about.

I immediately tried in my own mind to identify a particular “state of release” for the internet which of course threw up all the obvious questions I am sure you are wondering yourself if you are reading this article. In fact what this version attribute communicates is an identified change in convention, or a new way of doing things to what was once considered the ‘norm’.

Sheep Mentality

The term Web 2.0 is attributed to Tim O’Reilly who coined the term. Summarily it was proposed by Tim as a mark in time of the rise of prevailing practices and technologies which became self-evident after the dust had settled following the rupture of the dot com boom at the turn of the century.

The principles and technology that remained (because of their popularity and usefulness) became the foundations for what is observed today as characteristics of Web 2.0:

  • blogging
  • Ajax and other new technologies
  • Google Base and other free Web services
  • RSS-generated syndication
  • social bookmarking
  • mash-ups
  • wikis and other collaborative applications
  • dynamic as opposed to static site content
  • interactive encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • ease of data creation, modification or deletion by individual users
  • advanced gaming

There is no generally accepted definition for Web 2.0 or is there a described limitation for its scope. Its very meaning is very much still in debate, however Wilson et. al. (2011) propose a rather good definition of their own:

“Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the Web, wherein interoperable, user-centered web applications and services promote social conections, media and information sharing, user-created content, and collaborations among individual and organisations.”

Web 2.0 and beyond

Some elicit that we are actually identifying a Web 3.0.

This proposition is based upon the passage of time and that every new decade is a time to reflect and identify emergent technologies and practices which promise to enhance the internet even further upon the previous. Such technologies spoken of include AI and 3DWeb.

To summarise I am of the opinion that the Web is constantly in a state of R & D. Marking a point in the Web’s history with this “version” number serves as a great point in time to analyse its anatomy and to discuss how that anatomy is changing in terms of how things were and how things ‘could’ be by identifying with the most prolific and emerging technologies of the time.

Web Technology


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