Web 2.0 : What does it really mean ?
Web 2.0 has truly become a craze, and I am sure that most of you would have heard about it. However very few are actually aware about what Web 2.0 really is!
This can be attributed to the fact that the definition of web 2.0 itself is very ambiguous.According to Wikipedia :
Web 2.0 generally refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate, and share information online. In contrast to the first generation, Web 2.0 gives users an experience closer to desktop applications than the traditional static Web pages.
The concept of “Web 2.0″ began with a conference brainstorming session between O’Reilly and MediaLive International. O’Reilly’s website contains a detailed explanation about Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is a more dynamic and interactive World Wide Web.
To make the meaning of Web 2.0 clear let us consider couple of examples
1. Digg Vs. Zdnet : Zdnet is a Web 1.0 website. It offers little interactivity. Only the Zdnet editors have control over what gets posted. Digg is a Web2.0 website. It is a technology news site. However what sets is apart is the fact that the content of the site is entirely managed by the members of the site ( anyone can become a member). All members can post news that they think is interesting. The news is posted in the Backyard. Now members Digg (or vote ) for a news. Once it received sufficient amount of votes it reaches the front page. So this offers much more interactivity.
2. Yahoo Vs Netvibes : Yahoo is an old-fashioned Web 1.0 start page or portal. It contains links to various services like Horoscopes, Entertainment etc. You are also presented with the news headlines. Again you have no control over the content of the page. On the other hand in a website like Netvibes it is you who decides the content of the page. You can add weather reports, News feeds you find interesting, search engine you want to use and so on. Thus, Netvibes is a Web2.0 website.
( Readers please note that this article was written before Yahoo unveiled it’s new interface. )
3. Encyclopedia Britannica Vs Wikipedia : This is another excellent example of Web 2.0 vs Web 1.0. Encyclopedia Britannica operates in the classical fashion. It has a group of experts, writers and editors who manage the content of the site. Where as Wikipedia is largely maintained by the community. Anyone can become a part of the community. Everyone can contribute to Wikipedia. While this has often led to the abuse of Wikipedia, it has it’s own advantages. In many matters Wikipedia’s converge is more than Britannica’s. For eg. Search for St. Patrick’s Higher Secondary School doesn’t throw up any valid results in Britannica, there is a stub on this subject in Wikipedia.
Many people associate Web 2.0 with rounded edges, XHTML validation, Firefox compatibility and so on. In my opinion these are just misconceptions. The hype surrounding Web 2.0 has clouded the real meaning of Web 2.0.Nowadays, anything trendy is being defined as Web 2.0. According to John C. Dvorak Web 2.0 is nothing but hype.
He says that :
Web 2.0 is a rallying point. Maybe cheerleading will make it happen! But what they are cheerleading for, a slew of vague and meaningless concepts shows that they have no clue about what they are doing.
He is certainly right when he says that Web2.0 is vague. In a way Web 2.0 is nothing new. No new technology is behind these sites. Even AJAX which has gained popularity only recently, was invented in 1998.However, the concept behind these sites is certainly new. These sites are changing the face of the web. And there is no denying it. I am pretty sure that Web 2.0 is here to stay. The popularity of sites like Digg, Slashdot, del.icio.us and Gmail prove that.
What do you say?
P.S. A huge list of Web 2.0 sites is available here