What Does Web 2.0 Really Mean?

September 9, 2006 at 9:12 am 2 comments

Eric Benderoff of TechNewsWorld.com
Chicago Tribune
09/09/06 4:00 AM PT

If you blog or rant about a lousy meal, rank the performance of a new gadget or post photos somewhere of your trip to Wrigley Field, you’re part of the Web 2.0 revolution. If you surf the Web just to read a news story or browse some photos, though, you’re stuck in Web 1.0 mode. If you don’t like to participate, the Web’s not for you anymore. In its short history of having a huge impact on society, the Internet has leapt from one fad to the next, embracing each new trend as the next killer app while dismissing each old one as if it were an annoying baby dancing across your computer screen. We once wrote endlessly about B2B commerce, or B2C if you sold knickknacks to the masses. Before Y2K, eyeballs were required if you planned on building a sticky Web site. We droned on about how our New Economy was causing a paradigm shift, but then the dot-bomb exploded. And who could ever forget the Hamster Dance?

The Latest Trend

Now we have Web 2.0, and any effort to describe this trend “is like trying to nail gel onto a wall,” said a tech executive. In recent months, I’ve been flooded with pitches from companies that offer Web 2.0 services. These range from travel sites to online ticket brokers, from the next great social networking idea to sellers of women’s shoes. So what does Web 2.0 mean? Looking for clues at Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that some say is an apt example of the trend because anyone can revise an entry, I printed out an eight-page definition for Web 2.0. “We think of it more as a philosophy than a set of technologies,” said Kenneth Dotson, chief marketing officer for TicketsNow.com. The Crystal Lake, Ill., reseller of tickets to the theater and ballgames recently added event reviews by customers to its Web site, a very Web 2.0 thing to do. Dotson, who made the “gel” comparison, pointed me to a posting from the company credited with coining the phrase “Web 2.0,” first used in 2004 for a conference on emerging Internet trends. That the term continues to pick up steam nearly three years later seems remarkable. Did I miss the passing of the phrase “Internet time,” which Wikipedia helpfully compares with a New York minute?

No Consensus

In his explainer, Tim O’Reilly, chief executive of O’Reilly Media, credited colleague Dan Dougherty with coming up with Web 2.0 after noting that, post-crash, the Internet again was beginning to purr with new concepts. O’Reilly agrees there is a huge amount of disagreement over the term, and that some people think it’s just another buzzword, before embarking on his own 17-page explanation of Web 2.0. So after reading about platforms versus applications, the Internet’s long tail, the Web’s collective intelligence, “folksonomy” and content syndication, here’s the gist: If you blog or rant about a lousy meal, rank the performance of a new gadget or post photos somewhere of your trip to Wrigley Field, you’re part of the Web 2.0 revolution. However, if you surf the Web just to read a news story or browse some photos, though, you’re stuck in Web 1.0 mode. If you don’t like to participate, the Web’s not for you anymore.

Sam Rogoway, CEO of Tripmates.com, a travel Web site that launched Aug. 1, said his site’s interactive content makes it a “Travel 2.0” destination. “People enjoy the idea of asking someone who was just in Chicago, or lives there, about what the nightlife is like on Thursdays,” he said. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to the south of France, you can read Graham’s Tripmate post from Nice and look at his photos. If you don’t care what Graham has to say, well, that’s not very 2.0 of you. (He’s 24 and from Las Vegas and seems like a nice guy, by the way.)

An E-Commerce Necessity

There’s a tremendous push in the e-commerce world today to incorporate Web 2.0 thinking to sell everything from pots and pans to pens. Thanks to the phenomenal success recently of social networking sites like MySpace  and the popularity of the user-generated videos posted on YouTube, marketers are rushing to carve out their own niche. That’s another Web 2.0 concept, Rogoway points out. Basically, if you let people comment on a movie, restaurant or even an encased meat product, others will take these heartfelt endorsements as a call for action. “We feel we can enhance the business if we give users more control of the content,” said TicketNow’s Dotson.

So, according to Web 2.0 proponents, participation is the future.

Will that ever go out of style? After all, they still do the wave at Wrigley Field.

© 2006 Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. All rights reserved.
© 2006 ECT News Network. All rights reserved.

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Entry filed under: blog, blogger, blogging, Blogroll, blogs, bookmarking, chicago tribune, digg, eurekster, internet, media, myspace, myspace.com, News, o'reilly media, online, online business, online community, RSS, rss feed, social, social networking, social-bookmarking, tech, tech news world, TechCrunch, techn, Technology, Technology and Gadgets, technology news, technorati, The Chicago Tribune, ticketsnow, tripmates, wikipedia, you tube, youtube.

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