Web 2.what?

What is Web 2.0?

OK, before you start hurling insults about how I, a person who writes a blog, should know, think about what you really know about the term.

Here is a San Jose Mercury News article I found (sorry, it is a cached page) about how "Web 2.0" is not so easily defined. There is also a Slate.com article here.

My question: If we cannot clearly define the term, why are we throwing it around like everyone knows what it is? (See examples below.)

I understand using it in quoted material, and I do think that it can be used in stories, but it should be explained in some way.

And if you think you're up to date knowing about "Web 2.0" sites such as YouTube, Flickr or MySpace.com, you should check out http://www.go2web20.net, which lists "Web 2.0" sites. (A warning, you could spend a lot of time going through this site.)

Here are some examples of "Web 2.0" being thrown around in news articles. I chose some examples from three news sources that I trust to cover technology well.

They are experimenting with one of the hottest Web 2.0 trends... (The New York Times)

But it's not just for Web 2.0 start-ups. (The New York Times)

Certainly the actor Jack Black, as executive producer and a host of “Acceptable TV,” does not easily embrace the role of shill for Web 2.0, carnival-barking for a participatory TV game as if he were Ryan Seacrest. (The New York Times)

We've got broadband penetration, quality video formats that deliver a decent video experience over the web, falling storage and bandwidth costs, the matchmaking of advertisers and small publishers, and Web 2.0 mash-ups - combinations of existing web products yielding new services. (San Jose Mercury News)

More and more Web 2.0 start-ups are running into a surprising problem: too many customers. (San Jose Mercury News)

The social-networking companies may lose money, but they don't lose it on the scale that portals and start-up content firms did in the 1990s. These Web 2.0 companies are built on the wreckage of the dotcom/fiber-optic boom and bust of the 1990s. (Slate.com)
I do have to admit that the whole 2.0 thing is catchy, and I have noticed it slipping into headlines here and there, which I don't really mind.

I just feel that it is an ambiguous term, and that a little explanation about it could go a long way.


Matt B. said...

But how to define it? Also, when does Web 2.0 become Web 2.1 ... or even Web 3.0?

Ashley Sheridan said...

My understanding of Web 2.0 is in 2 parts:
1) The aesthetics of design are abstracted from the semantics and functionality. Something like the Zen Garden shows this in action (while itself not being Web 2.0 as it doesn't implement point 2)
2) The site is interactive beyond a simple contact form, offering a higher level of interaction. Sites such as Facebook and Google Maps are great example of Web 2.0.

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