This is not a term I am particularly fond of simply for the fact that no two people seem to define it in the same way. Also, call me a curmudgeon, but I just don’t like buzz words. Since I categorically refuse to use a term I can’t clearly define, I set out to learn how other people define Web 2.0. I read a bunch of blog posts and articles, but came out even more confused. Is Web 2.0 the Semantic Web? Is it social software? Is it the same as Web Services, the freeing of content from applications so that content can be combined and reused in myriad ways? Is it any web application that is dynamic, scalable, interoperable, etc? Or is it simply going beyond the static HTML page? I understand the individual examples, like Flickr (Web 2.0) vs. Ofoto (Web 1.0) and taxonomy (Web 2.0) vs. folksonomy (Web 1.0), but examples do not make a definition.
Here are some of the things I read in the attempt to define Web 2.0. Maybe you can make better sense of it all:
- Web 2.0 by example – What is Web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly.
- I don’t know what it is, but I know I like it – Why Web2.0 Matters: Preparing for Glocalization by Danah Boyd at Apophenia (a terrific blog, BTW).
- Doing things on the Web… socially – Web 2.0 Elevator Pitch from the Read/WriteWeb.
- What ever happened to the good old semantic web? – If this is the Web 2.0, then what is the Semantic Web? by Fred On Something.
- Smells like Web Services – Web 2.0 and the Long Tail, Part 2 by Chris Anderson in The Long Tail. Love the quote “the lack of a crisp definition is a feature, not a bug.”
- The Internet as nature (or Tim Berners-Lee) intended – What is Web 2.0? at Edge Perspectives with John Hagel.
- The business perspective – Web 2.0 Acid Test by Ian Kennedy at Flashpoint.
- My favorite, really is Dave Winer’s definition: “The Web is real. The Semantic Web is an idea and Web 2.0 is a marketing concept used by venture capitalists and conference promoters to try to call another bubble into existence.” (Love it!)
I agree that something interesting is happening on the Web. I love the idea of the Semantic Web, I get excited about the power of Web Services, and I spend my nights dreaming about the applications of social software in libraries. But Web 2.0?
Maybe I can get a little more excited when I finally understand what it is.
To me, “Web 2.0” is more of an attitude and philosophy than any particular programming architecture or group of web sites. To be Web 2.0 compliant, you have to be extremely user-focused, often to the point of giving up control of your data and/or architecture to the users. Collaboration, new methods of information delivery and aggregation, and a lot of interactivity play a roll as well.
Not very specific, I know. And in the end, “Web 2.0” is really a buzzword for stuff we already had. But sometimes grouping like concepts into a single package can help. I guess we’ll see.
Maybe it’s akin to the supreme court definition of pornography… you know it when you see it.
I think of the focus of Web 2.0 as being user control. Does the software designer mandate what I do with my data, or can I as the user decide? How much control do I have over what I see and how I work? I could use Flickr to be a plain storage site, with no tagging or other uses–pure accessioned storage. Or I can tag for easier retrieval. Or I can create a photo blog. Or I can join one of the groups or participate in a project. Or I can just search for other’s work, maybe by Creative Commons licensing.
And that’s the other part, the acknowledgement by the service providers that the user is part of the content creation process, and may be more important than the provider. Flickr would be empty without the users; Amazon would be just another online bookstore without customer reviews and the purchases that provide the “Also bought” links.
Reading this over, I don’t think this adds up to any more of a definition than the links you had in the first place.
Meredith, maybe you could have a chat with your pal Michael, who seems to be enamored of Web 2.0? http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/blog_detail.php?blog_id=64
[…] It’s interesting to watch the lack of dialogue between librarians who are rah-rah Web/Library 2.0 advocates and those who think it’s all a bunch of hot air. It’s like two parallel conversations, with no intersections between the two conversations. The pro-2.0 people don’t defend the concept and the anti-2.0 people don’t seem to acknowledge any legitimacy of the idea. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I totally understand why people dislike the whole Web 2.0 concept. Two months after my first post about Web 2.0, I still see it as being 90% hype, especially when so many of the Web 2.0 products are not particularly useful and do the exact same thing (love that Web Two Point Oh! spoof!). I get excited when I see an application that would really be useful in my everyday life, but that doesn’t happen very often. AJAX is cool in that it keeps you from having to reload an entire page when you just need to change one part of the page. But it’s about more than fading titles and moving logos, and what it is about isn’t revolutionary. Is being perpetually in Beta a good thing? It seems like Web 2.0 is about putting out a lot of barely useful, half-finished applications in an attempt to capitalize on the foolishness of venture capitalists and other investors. Maybe when I see more really well-thought-out applications that aren’t in Beta and that actually do things that are useful for my life, I will change my opinion. […]