The exact definition of Web 2.0 is still a matter of debate. The
term was coined by Tim OReilly in 2003, and popularized by the Web 2.0
Conference the following year. It is still being examined and reexamined almost
everyday by bloggers around the world, who, in their own ways, are adding
examples, questioning previous interpretations, and pointing to newer
developments that they think are its manifestations, to collectively shape the
"understanding"and not really the "definition"of web
2.0. That kind of collective value-addition and active participation by many
people around the world using the Internet as a medium, incidentally, is what
distinguishes Web 2.0 from the Web of yesteryears.
But the big debate is not around what should or should not be
included while defining Web 2.0; it is about the name itself. Web 2.0 denotes a
new version of the Web. But a version, in case of a product, is a discreetly new
release, which is launched on a particular date. The Webas we see it todayis
the result of continuous improvements, and hence, is an evolution. It is not as
if it was switched on one day, say those who oppose the name. The most notable
voice in this camp is Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founding fathers of the World
Wide Web. He argues that the Web was always supposed to be what "the
so-called" Web 2.0 is.
Whats the Big Deal
While some of the characteristics are still being debated and the jury is
still out on them, there is consensus about a few. They are:
Power to the user/collaborative nature of the Web:
This to the basic difference between Web 2.0 and the traditional Web.
Collective responsibility: While power to the user in
blogs, Orkut and YouTube is more of an enhancement of the capability of the
Web; Wikipedia and open source collaborative software projects have proved
that the new Web is not just a platform for people to provide an active
feedback to those in authority not to overstep their limits, you can do
wonders by giving people the authority to take the responsibility and you
can succeed. Wikipedia is almost as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica and
is far, far more diverse.
The Web as a platform: Today, it is possible to use
applications entirely from the browser without "owning it".
Whether it is small Google Docs apps or a Salesforce.com CRM, people are
used to access applications over the Internet.
User-friendly interface: Earlier, the Web had been
designed to do some things and you had to learn how to use it. Today, it is
designed for you and it is for the designers to figure out how to make that
more usable, not to speak of more appealing, to you.
In the Pipeline
Offline Applications: While in the first generation of the Web people tried
to make what was built for traditional systems to run on the Web (and many burnt
their fingers: remember the ASP wave?), many are now developing applications
purely for the Web. Some realize that it is not enough to make them only for the
Web; they need to run offline as well. Expect to see a lot of effort in this
area. Some of the projects in this area are Adobes effort to do that with its
Adobe Apollo and a competing project called Dekoh.
Web 3.0: While the initial Web was about making the concept
work, the Web 2.0 is about more collaboration and active participation of the
user. The next frontier of research is what some call the Semantic Web: a
smarter Web that understands the context and meaning of what you are setting out