WEB 2.0



v  Abstract

In 2004, we realized that the Web was on the cusp of a new era, one that would finally let loose the power of network effects, setting off a surge of innovation and opportunity. To help usher in this new era, O’Reilly Media and CMP launched a conference that showcased the innovators who were driving it. When O’Reilly’s Dale Dougherty came up with the term “Web 2.0” during a brainstorming session, we knew we had the name for the conference. What we didn’t know was that the industry would embrace the Web 2.0 meme and that it would come to represent
the new Web.

At the end of 2006, Time magazine’s Person of the Year was ‘You’. On the cover of the magazine, underneath the title of the award, was a picture of a PC with a mirror in place of the screen, reflecting not only the face of the reader, but also the general feeling that 2006 was the year of the Web - a new, improved, 'second version', 'user generated' Web. But how accurate is our perception of so-called 'Web 2.0'? Is there real substance behind the hyperbole? Is it a publishing revolution or is it a social revolution? Is it actually a revolution at all? And what will it mean for education, a sector that is already feeling the effects of the demands of Internet-related change?

Media coverage of Web 2.0 concentrates on the common applications/services such as blogs, video sharing, social networking and podcasting—a more socially connected Web in which people can contribute as much as they can consume. In chapter two I provide a brief introduction to some of these services, many of them built on the technologies and open standards that have been around since the earliest days of the Web, and show how they have been refined, and in some cases concatenated, to provide a technological foundation for delivering services to the user through the browser window (based on the key idea of the Web, rather than the desktop, as the technology platform). But is this Web 2.0? Indeed, it can be argued that these applications and services are really just early manifestations of ongoing Web technology development. If we look at Web 2.0 as it was originally articulated we can see that it is, in fact, an umbrella term that attempts to express explicitly the framework of ideas that underpin attempts to understand the manifestations of these newer Web services within the context of the technologies that have produced them. These ideas though, need technology in order to be realized into the functioning Web-based services and applications that we are using.
Web 2.0 is much more than just pasting a new user interface onto an old application. It’s a way of thinking, a new perspective on the entire business of software— from concept through delivery, from marketing through support. Web 2.0 thrives on network effects: databases that get richer the more people interact with them, applications that are smarter the more people use them, marketing that is driven by user stories and experiences, and applications that interact with each other to form a broader computing platform.

The trend toward networked applications is accelerating. While Web 2.0 has initially taken hold in consumer-facing applications, the infrastructure required to build these applications, and the scale at which they are operating, means that, much as PCs took over from mainframes in a classic demonstration of Clayton Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma” hypothesis, web applications can and will move into the enterprise space.

Two years ago we launched the Web 2.0 Conference to evangelize Web 2.0 and to get the industry to take notice of the seismic shift we were experiencing. This report is for those who are ready to respond to that shift. It digs beneath the hype and buzzwords, and teaches the underlying rules of Web 2.0—what they are, how successful Web 2.0 companies are applying them, and how to apply them to your own business. It’s a practical resource that provides essential tools for competing and thriving in today’s emerging business world. I hope it inspires you to embrace the Web 2.0 opportunity.

Education and educational institutions will have their own special issues with regard to Web 2.0 services and technologies and in section five I look at some of these issues. By special request, particular attention has been given to libraries and preservation and the issues that present themselves for those tasked with preserving some of the material produced by these services and applications. Finally, I look to the future. What are the technologies that will affect the next phase of the Web’s development: what one might call, rather reluctantly, Web 3.0?
v   'Web 2.0' or 'Web 1.0’: a tale of two Tims

Web 2.0 is a slippery character to pin down. Is it a revolution in the way we use the Web? Is it another technology 'bubble'? It rather depends on who you ask. A Web technologist will give quite a different answer to a marketing student or an economics professor.

The short answer, for many people, is to make a reference to a group of technologies which have become deeply associated with the term: blogs, wikis, podcasts, and RSS feeds etc., which facilitate a more socially connected Web where everyone is able to add to and edit the information space. The longer answer is rather more complicated and pulls in economics, technology and new ideas about the connected society. To some, though, it is simply a time to invest in technology again—a time of renewed exuberance after the dot-com bust.

For the inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, there is a tremendous sense of déjà vu about all this. When asked in an interview for a podcast, published on IBM’s website, whether Web 2.0 was different to what might be called Web 1.0 because the former is all about connecting people, he replied:

"Totally not. Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along. And in fact, you know, this 'Web 2.0', it means using the standards which have been produced by all these people working on Web 1.0."
                          Laningham (ed.), developer Works Interviews.

This distinction is key to understanding where the boundaries are between ‘the Web’, as a set of technologies, and ‘Web 2.0’—the attempt to conceptualize the significance of a set of outcomes that are enabled by those Web technologies. Understanding this distinction helps us to think more clearly about the issues that are thrown up by both the technologies and the results of the technologies, and this helps us to better understand why something might be classed as ‘Web 2.0’ or not. In order to be able to discuss and address the Web 2.0 issues that face higher education we need to have these conceptual tools in order to identify why something might be significant and whether or not we should act on it.

For example, Tim O'Reilly, in his original article, identifies what he considers to be features of successful ‘Web 1.0’ companies and the ‘most interesting’ of the new applications. He does this in order to develop a set of concepts by which to benchmark whether or not a company is Web 1.0 or Web 2.0. This is important to him because he is concerned that ‘the Web 2.0 meme has become so widespread that companies are now pasting it on as a marketing buzzword, with no real understanding of just what it means

Web 1.0

Web 2.0
Google AdSense
Britannica Online
personal websites
upcoming.org and EVDB
domain name speculation
search engine optimization
page views
cost per click
screen scraping
web services
content management systems
directories (taxonomy)
tagging ("folksonomy")

 v Web 2.0

The term "web 2.0" refers to a perceived second generation of web development and design, that aims to facilitate communication, secure information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services, and applications such as social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.
The term first became notable after the Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but rather to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web.
Web 2.0 is a set of economic, social, and technology trends that collectively form the basis for the next generation of the Internet—a more mature, distinctive medium characterized by user participation, openness, and network effects.”

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