Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What is "Web 2.0"?

The concept of "Web 2.0" began with a conference brainstorming session between O'Reilly and MediaLive International. Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and O'Reilly VP, noted that far from having "crashed", the web was more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity. What's more, the companies that had survived the collapse seemed to have some things in common. Could it be that the dot-com collapse marked some kind of turning point for the web, such that a call to action such as "Web 2.0" might make sense? We agreed that it did, and so the Web 2.0 Conference was born.

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

In our initial brainstorming, we formulated our sense of Web 2.0 by example:

Web 1.0 Web 2.0
DoubleClick --> Google AdSense
Ofoto --> Flickr
Akamai --> BitTorrent --> Napster
Britannica Online --> Wikipedia
personal websites --> blogging
evite --> and EVDB
domain name speculation --> search engine optimization
page views --> cost per click
screen scraping --> web services
publishing --> participation
content management systems --> wikis
directories (taxonomy) --> tagging ("folksonomy")
stickiness --> syndication

The elaborate, multipage article linked and quoted above attempts to define the concept of "Web 2.0," a buzzword that has become something of a catchall associated with nearly anything new and hip on the internet. Of course, the flip side is that it may not be that it refers to everything now on the internet-- rather, it very likely refers to the most hip stuff. Like some of the sites listed above. O'Reilly's article tries to pin down what exactly the big deal is about these sites like wikipedia or flickr, and describe the general principles explaining these sites effectiveness and popularity. More clearly, O'Reilly tries to define a broad concept, which he calls "Web 2.0," that seems to be the force behind a lot of the innovation on the internet.