The internet comes of age: Defining Web 2.0


There is a new buzz words thats been wizzing around lately, ever heard of Web 2.0? Actually its quite an old term and people have been mouthing off about it for quite some time now, but I think only recently are people and more specifically South African web owners, begun to understand and identify the relevance of Web 2.0 of late. It can be quite a baffling term to grasp if you don’t look at the elements as a whole, an entity that has changed the way the world wide web is experienced.

Each month I write a column for ComputerActive magazine, a South African magazine that talks to its readers and explains sometimes complex terms in a more “User Freindly” manner and tone.

In the December issue I submitted an article defining and explaining Web 2.0 in such a tone that even my computer illiterate parents can understand it…er, well maybe thats a push , but my point is that all things that evolve around the internet and the constant changes happening in this thriving environment are really not all that scary or intimidating provided you don’t talk directly to a techie trying to show off his vast expanse of vocabulary by speaking in IT jargon Tongues.

(Sure these guys are brilliant, but er…not everyone gets it the way that they do and so us “simple folk” are often at a disadvantage and need a little hand holding)

I have decided to post my article below that was published in the December issue of the Computer Active Magazine, to try help shed some light on the Web 2.0 era of the world wide web and hopefully help someone along the way – Sharing is caring :”)

I hope you will like the read.

Web 2.0, the internets coming of age.

Written By: Camilla Patten

Computer Active Magazine

Editor: Stuart Lowman

Ever heard of the term Web 2.0? Have any idea what this is or what it means to web users? If you have any knowledge about this topic, congratulations, you are a step-ahead of most internet users and e-business owners.

The best way to explain Web 2.0 is as such; picture the World Wide Web as a toddler and for differentiating purposes we’ll name it Web 1.0. Like all children the web came into existence with much excitement and anticipation, a birth that would change the world forever. The “www” age set out on a course destined to develop, learn, make mistakes, fall once or twice, get back up and keep growing. Companies created websites detailing their products and services, educating internet users of their offerings. Individuals created home pages to publish personal information and detail their skills and interests. As users began learning the ways of the web, so the web too was learning. One of the biggest lessons that “little” web 1.0 learnt during its “childhood” education was; although there was a wealth of information spreading across the internet, its central focus revolved around reading and visitors to websites were unable to interact beyond reading the documented content.

When looking to define Web 2.0, there are many technical explanations around detailing this somewhat taboo era of the web. I will define it for you the way in which I have come to understand after sifting through the jargon filled explanations. Web 2.0 is an evolved and matured way in which the World Wide Web is conversing with its users. It flourishes on network communities who literally round up the troops and let the majority rule. I as the web user will choose what I want to read in the headlines, and decide who I allow to influence my thoughts, experiences and opinions. I decide when, where and how I want to receive and display this highly personalised content and I have the choice whether I contribute to this new collection of sharing or not.

From child to young adult Web 1.0 has matured and we find ourselves talking about a new generation of the World Wide Web with more depth, and meaning. Web 2.0 carries a new set of priorities, responsibilities and has been streamlined to provide a more collective experience for the user. Web 2.0 may be best understood by detailing the new personality or applications that it now provides. These new applications have one common factor; their purpose to bring the user into an interactive environment where the core activity is reliant on peer to peer (P2P) interaction. These applications are founded on hyperlinking and user generated content where the human user provides more accurate and relevant feedback based on their real life experience, making web 2.0 a user driven, intelligent web.

  • Blogs

A blog is a web page where users document their opinions, personal experiences, diaries, interests and any other content they wish to express.
Blog entries or post’s are arranged chronologically displaying the most recent entry first and allow other users to comment on the material posted. These posts are usually tagged with certain keywords which then allow for subject matter to be to be categorised and filed into theme based menu systems.

  • Wikis

Wikis are web pages where users are able to edit, add and remove content and is very much a collaborative instrument facilitating group user work. Through simple hypertext style or hyperlinking between pages wikis are easy to navigate and content is simple to find.

  • Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking allows users to create lists of “favourites” or “bookmarks” to content they wish to view on a regular basis. Bookmarks are stored on a remote service and not on the user’s browser so encouraging social sharing in which other users using the remote service to bookmark their favorites are able to share common interests with one another.

  • Tagging

Tags are keywords that are assigned to digital content such as websites, images and video clips. A tag is not a classification system but rather words and phrases used to describe the content. Tags are also used in bookmarking and in fact it is through tagging that users partaking in social bookmarking find common interest bookmarks.

  • Multimedia Sharing and Podcasting (Audio Blogging)

Multimedia sharing (video clips) and Podcasting (Audio clips) are means by which users can upload and share multimedia and audio content with other users. Users are able to upload and share any content they choose ranging from interviews, lectures, audio blogs, commercials and family videos.

  • RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication)

RSS feeds enable users to easily find content updates on RSS-enabled sites. With RSS feeds, users don’t have to visit the site in order to access the new content. Through syndication and making use of a feed reader (aggregator), selected content is streamed to the feed which the user has subscribed to.

These are just a few of the applications that encompass Web 2.0 and it is clear that with user centric applications the web brings a new era of computing and networking. If you thought the world was small before, it just got even smaller. The “Global Village” we once knew has quickly become a “Global Suburbia” where users with common interests, goals and aspirations reside together creating mini communities within our virtual society. As taboo as the term Web 2.0 may be, the fact remains that this is the new way of the “World Wide Web” and as with all things in our lives that are fluid and changing, it’s up to you the user to go with the flow or swim against the tide, the beauty of Web 2.0 is that the choice is now yours.

For a more technical explanation of Web 2.0 I have included a Wikipedia’s explanation here.