What Exactly is Web 2.0?

Many of you have probably seen references to “Web 2.0” around the 'Net. Tim O'Reilly has taken on writing about what this term means in his recent article, What Is Web 2.0, Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. It’s not just a boring article defining the term or written so that only programmers would understand it, though. Tim’s new article overviews how the Internet arrived where it is today, comparing the past with comparables today in a way that even a non-programmer like myself can understand.

In the year and a half since [the term was first brought up by myself and Dale Dougherty at a conference brainstorming session], the term 'Web 2.0' has clearly taken hold, with more than 9.5 million citations in Google. But there’s still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom.

This article is an attempt to clarify just what we mean by Web 2.0.

For example, O'Reilly describes how the emergence of the permalink catapulted us from an easy way to publish online into interactive conversational communities. He also explains the important roles of scripting languages now like Perl, Python, PHP, and Ruby in building and managing dynamic systems and sites with frequent changes.

In addition is the role of users at the center more like co-developers since developers are continually improving and changing websites based on their user behavior and feedback. Of course, there’s discussion of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, iTunes, Tivo, podcasting, RSS, AJAX, Flickr, where things might be heading, and much more.

If you like illustrations and charts, especially if you’re a visual person like myself, you’ll find those, too. On the first page is a chart comparing Web 1.0 with Web 2.0 and a Web 2.0 Meme Map that shows how a multitude of ideas radiate from the Web 2.0 core.

At any rate, whether or not you think “Web 2.0” is just the latest buzzword going around, O'Reilly’s article provides a thought-provoking outlook and overview on where we’ve been on the Internet, where we are now, and a promising look in the days ahead, too. What I’ve written here barely scratches the surface of this lengthy but interesting article.


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  1. I found the article very easy to understand and believe that Web 2.0 is not just a buzzword but rather an understanding of the internet to come. Will be very interesting to see if all he writes for the future comes true and which program take hold and new technologies emerge as the web ages. Loved the graphs and chart he put in the presentation made it alot easier to understand.

    12:27 pm, pst13 November, 2005Comment by Jessica

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