What is Web 2.0 ? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Internet technologies glossary:

Web 2.0 is the current state of online technology as it compares to the early days of the Web, characterized by greater user interactivity and collaboration, more pervasive network connectivity and enhanced communication channels. 

One of the most significant differences between Web 2.0 and the traditional World Wide Web (WWW, retroactively referred to as Web 1.0) is greater collaboration among Internet users, content providers and enterprises. Originally, data was posted on Web sites, and users simply viewed or downloaded the content. Increasingly, users have more input into the nature and scope of Web content and in some cases exert real-time control over it.

The social nature of Web 2.0 is another major difference between it and the original, static Web. Increasingly, websites enable community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Types of social media sites and applications include forums, microbloggingsocial networkingsocial bookmarkingsocial curation, and wikis

Elements of Web 2.0

  • Wikis: Websites that enable users to contribute, collaborate and edit site content. Wikipedia is one of the oldest and best-known wiki-based sites.
  • The increasing prevalence of Software as a Service (SaaS), web apps and cloud computing rather than locally-installed programs and services.
  • Mobile computing, also known as nomadicity, the trend toward users connecting from wherever they may be. That trend is enabled by the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices in conjunction with readily accessible Wi-Fi networks.
  • Mash-ups: Web pages or applications that integrate complementary elements from two or more sources.
  • Social networking: The practice of expanding the number of one's business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals. Social networking sites include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
  • Collaborative efforts based on the ability to reach large numbers of participants and their collective resources, such as crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and crowdsource testing.
  • User-generated content (UGC): Writing, images, audio and video content -- among other possibilities -- made freely available online by the individuals who create it. 
  • Unified communications (UC): The integration of multiple forms of call and multimedia/cross-media message-management functions controlled by an individual user for both business and social purposes.
  • Social curation: The collaborative sharing of content organized around one or more particular themes or topics. Social content curation sites include Reddit, Digg, Pinterest and Instagram.

The History of Web 2.0
The foundational components of Web 2.0 are the advances enabled by Ajax and other applications such as RSS and Eclipse and the user empowerment that they support.

Darcy DiNucci, an information architecture consultant, coined the term “Web 2.0 In her 1999 article, "Fragmented Future”:

“The Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in essentially static screenfuls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web 2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop. The Web will be understood not as screenfuls of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens.”

Tim O'Reilly is generally credited with popularizing the term, following a conference dealing with next-generation Web concepts and issues held by O'Reilly Media and MediaLive International in 2004. O'Reilly Media has subsequently been energetic about trying to copyright "Web 2.0" and holds an annual conference of the same name. 

Web 2.0 controversy
Critics of Web 2.0 maintain that it makes it too easy for the average person to affect online content, which can impact the credibility, ethics and even legality of web content. The extent of data sharing and gathering also raises concerns about privacy and security. Defenders of Web 2.0 point out that these problems have existed ever since the infancy of the medium and that the alternative -- widespread censorship based on ill-defined elitism -- would be far worse. The final judgment concerning any web content, say the defenders, should be made by end users alone. Web 2.0 reflects evolution in that direction.

Web 2.0 technologies
Most of the technologies used in delivering web 2.0 are rich Web technologies, such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight and JavaScript (in addition to Ajax, RSS and Eclipse).  Web 2.0 applications are often based on the decentralized download methodology that made BitTorrent so successful, in which each downloader of content is also a server, sharing the workload and making heavily demanded content more accessible that it would be in the centralized model where demand can lead to overwhelmed servers and pages.

Manufacturing 2.0
The integration of Web 2.0 communication and collaboration applications into traditional manufacturing practices and processes has been dubbed Manufacturing 2.0. Manufacturing 2.0 takes typical Web 2.0 apps and services and incorporates them into every stage of development and production. The use of these technologies and tools facilitates greater collaboration and sharing and referencing of information in a business, ideally leading to better thought out design and more efficient production.

Enterprise 2.0
Similarly, the inclusion of Web 2.0 technologies into an enterprise’s business processes, intranet and extranet is sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0. Most enterprise 2.0 followers use a combination of blogs, social networking and social collaborative tools as well as free, paid and homegrown technologies. The term Enterprise 2.0 was coined by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Andrew McAfee in an MIT Sloan Management Review he named "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration."

Web 2.0 suicide
So synonymous with Web 2.0 is social networking that the deletion of one’s social networking presences throughout the Internet is referred to as Web 2.0 suicide. There are web applications designed to facilitate the process, such as the free service Web 2.0 suicide machine. The application attempts to purge user info on some of the most common social networking presence points: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter before adding the user to the Social Network Suiciders group on Facebook and signing them out.

The future of Web 2:0: Web 3.0
Some industry pundits are already claiming that Web 2.0 is merely a transitional phase between the early days of the World Wide Web's existence and a more established phase they're calling Web 3.0, also known as the Semantic Web.

The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, suggests that the Web as a whole can be designed more intelligently to be more intuitive about how to serve a user's needs. Berners-Lee observes that although search engines index much of the Web's content, they have little ability to select the pages that a user really wants or needs. He suggests developers and authors, singly or in collaboration, can use self-descriptions or similar techniques so that new context-aware programs can better classify the information that might be relevant to a user. Web 3.0 will involve the publishing of web resources in languages intended for data (such as XML, RDF, OWL and XHTML) to supplement them with metadata that will allow software to analyze, classify and deliver content for more personal relevance. The Semantic Annotations for Web Services group at W3C is defining the specifications for the Web 3.0.

Ubiquitous Computing
The model of Web 3.0’s machine-classified, data sharing world creates a basis for ubiquitous computing. Ubiquitous computing, also known as pervasive computing, is a scenario in which embedded processing in everyday objects enables intercommunication and unobtrusive data sharing throughout the user’s environment. The concept overlaps with that of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which almost any entity or object imaginable can be outfitted with a unique identifier (UID) and the ability to exchange data automatically. A modest example of this concept is a fridge that sends a grocery lists to one’s smartphone.

See Sir Tim’s Ted Talk on the future of the Web:

 

This was last updated in January 2015
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • IFrame (Inline Frame)

    - The IFrame HTML element is often used to insert content from another source, such as an advertisement, into a Web page. Although an IFrame behaves like an inline image, it can be configured with it... (WhatIs.com)

  • bitly (Bitly Inc.)

    - The link shortening service bitly enables users to truncate webpage URLs to accommodate platforms like Twitter, which has a strict 144-character limit. (SearchContentManagement.com)

  • enterprise search

    - Enterprise search is the organized retrieval of structured and unstructured data within an organization. (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Internet technologies

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet technologies, including definitions about port numbers, standards and protocols and words and phrases about how the Internet works.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.