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.

One of the things that is often associated with Web 2.0 is AJAX. The web has evolved over the years. The bland and completely html based websites have made way for more sophisticated websites implementing various standards like Ajax, JavaScript and CSS. Ajax makes it possible to make websites more interactive. I have used Ajax in my blog for Displaying comments (to get a demonstration click on the View comments link in the main page.)

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

9 Responses to Web 2.0 : What does it really mean ?

  1. Ole Brandenburg March 28, 2006 at 11:27 pm #

    I see that you are interested in Web 2.0 services and personalized start pages. Have you tried http://www.pageflakes.com already? It’s a similar service but offers additional features such as multiple pages and a larger number of modules and feeds.


  2. Pallab March 29, 2006 at 3:45 am #

    Sreejith, please post a screenshot.I dont get that error.

  3. Marquee March 30, 2006 at 11:44 pm #

    The first analysis can be argued whether the “general population” is good at picking relevant articles for the rest of us instead of industry experts. People with more time on their hands are the ones who have time to vote and rank websites and not get paid for it. I think even those are skewed. This isn’t much of an argument for or against the “web 2.0” concept. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Vishnu April 5, 2006 at 2:17 pm #

    good reading. but seems like i’ve read this article somewhere.. i am not sure, maybe i read an article on similar context :/

  5. Pallab April 5, 2006 at 2:20 pm #

    Can you provide a link to that page ?
    This article is written by me and licenced under creative commons. So no one can directly copy it without providing a source.

  6. drg April 18, 2006 at 2:01 pm #

    smooth flowing browsing is 2.0, target=_blank is not

  7. Pallab April 18, 2006 at 2:11 pm #

    drg said :

    smooth flowing browsing is 2.0, target=_blank is not

    Yes.But I usually include a lot of links in my article and I dont want my visitors to be diverted to another site. Hence, using it is neccesary.

  8. Nirmal May 19, 2007 at 6:29 am #

    Hey Pallab,
    Nice article, thanks for sharing.
    I would like to point out one thing. Your conception of opening links in new windows is wrong. I too had the same thought when i started my blogging not to direct visitors to other sites. But it is actually wrong, many web designers and bloggers insist on opening links in same window.
    I have written about it in my blog. If interested you can check it out.

  9. Pallab May 19, 2007 at 7:15 am #

    Thanks Nirmal. I personally prefer if links open in new background tab ( not window – modern day tabbed browsers open links in new tab instead of window. The opinion is actually farely divided according to this poll.
    But, it is definitely something to think about. I may stop using target=”_blank” in future postings.

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