23 May Readers' Web 2.0 definitions
A couple weeks ago, I asked, “Just what is this Web 2.0?”
I’m not the only one who ponders the wide use of a phrase to label everything from start-ups (“Oh, that’s a Web 2.0 company”) to services (“Here’s another Web 2.0 site”) to a point on the technology evolution timeline (“we’re in the Web 2.0 era”).
Not surprisingly, the answers to my question were almost as varied.
He makes a strong point that Web 2.0 is the achievement of what many have been seeking for a very long time: a simpler, more engaging experience with services that are useful and valuable.
Rachel Lyubovitzky of Adaptive Blue places emphasis on the specific application of the technologies, not merely the technologies themselves. Her take: Web 2.0 is “the next generation Web technologies focused on user collaboration, information sharing and improving user experience.”
Rachel adds “the challenge with coming up with a single comprehensive definition stems from the fact that there is no consensus on what was wrong with the original Web that the current Web 2.0 apps are looking to fix. Once we get a clear idea of what some of these shortcomings were, it would be crystal clear how today’s solutions pave the way for the better Web.”
The French – or at least one Frenchman – chimed in with a perspective that backs up Ms. Lyubovitzky’s definition. “Web 2.0 indicates Web sites where net surfers become actors and not only passive readers,” writes Sylvain Muller, a student at ESC-Rennes in Rennes, France. “It also implies an enhanced dimension of multimedia with podcasts and videos that are continuously more numerous (YouTube) and tend to replace written articles (CNET).”
Dharmesh Shah, however, threads the needle between the technology and the applications. “Web 2.0 is a combination some basic concepts that are identified with a `new generation’ of Web applications. These are different from the prior generation in two important ways:
1. These applications have some “social” component to them allowing communities of people to collaborate and create value.
2. These applications “expose” their data and services (or consume that of others) to allow unique combinations of applications to be created in a “composite” manner.
Note [that] I do not use the term AJAX when speaking of Web 2.0, as I think it is incidental to these applications. Sure, the applications need to be “easier to use” and provide a “rich experience” when compared to their predecessors, but that’s enough to make AJAX a *mandate* for Web 2.0″
Clearly, I’m not the only one struggling to answer the Web 2.0 question, and I was referred to a couple of interesting blog posts that tackled the question well.
Abel Quitoriano offers up a user’s perspective of Web 2.0 in his blog.
Even so-called Web 2.0 entrepreneurs wrestle with the question, as does Gibu Thomas, the CEO of DEMO 2006 demonstrator Sharpcast in two interesting posts. In the first, he makes an elegant argument that Web 2.0 “is about extending the power of native applications to the Web and to other devices, to deliver a seamless access to our entire workspace — not just our files.”
It’s a definition that works well for the products and services that Sharpcast is building, but I don’t think he’s being entirely self-serving, as evidenced in a follow-on post on the topic.
For all the dialog on this question, though, perhaps one bit of feedback nailed the Web 2.0 question best of all. Wrote David Cutler:
“Web 2.0 simply means that you are still alive and relevant on the Net.”
This column was reprinted with permission of Network World Inc. All registered trademarks are owned by IDG. More information can be found at http://www.idgef.com.
Copyright 2006 IDG. All rights Reserved
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.