When we talk about the web, the general public will always think of the information contained within browser windows, and the hypertext links that brings me from Point A to Point B. Seldom do they ponder on the technology behind the pages, and I’d wager that if you ask anyone (non-technical, that is) about the development of the web since the beginning of 1990s, they wouldn’t have noticed.
But changed it has. And the change has a name: Web 2.0.
Okay, okay, you can stop laughing now.
When it was first conceived, Web 2.0 was being blown off as hot air coming out of an elephant’s tough behind. I suppose in retrospect that’s probably because there wasn’t a solid real-world example. In fact, think about that last sentence. *One* solid real-world example? Web 2.0 by its nature requires more than one website with fancy AJAX and client-side interactiveness to be even considered Web 2.0.
That’s because the essense of Web 2.0 was it’s ability to connect people, communities and our shared consciousness. Our combined knowledge leveraged with the speed afforded by the mediums we now have for communication and collaboration. Never before has the web allowed input from the average user, and use that very information as input for other users and uses.
I think it took years for these ‘enabled’ websites to spring up – all tying the other websites together, to bring them up as a coherent ‘whole’, before the term Web 2.0 was revitalized. Suddenly everyone is saying, ‘Oh, so this is what they meant back in the day!’
Bear in mind that prior to the ‘socialization’ of the web, the web behaved very much like any controlled mass media, although admittedly it was easier to get web hosting space for your own homepage than it was to write op-eds in newspapers or appear in TV. But the direction of the information was one way, and that was from the screen to you.
It would be silly to try and pigeonhole the term Web 2.0 into one single definition, but if one attribute can be used to embody the spirit of Web 2.0, it would be the socialization of the web. Everyone being able to contribute to the site, giving others instant access to information regardless of physical location on the planet. Real-time communication, information gathering, parsing and tying everything together in a meaningful fashion, easy sharing of data and resources. Sharing. Community.
I came across this video that claims to explain Web 2.0 in under 5 minutes. It’s does a good job as a summary, because, like I said, defining just one thing for Web 2.0 would be silly, but it is adequate. Check it out here.
For me, Web 2.0 is a state of being on the Internet, rather than an individual website.