What is Web 2.0?
Key elements and connectivity of Web 1.0. Click image to enlarge. The early internet was characterized by slow internet connectivity (dialup) and few content creation opportunities for most internet users (content consumers).
During the 1990s, the World Wide Web provided a way for people to use a network of computers to efficiently exchange files. In general, content for the Web was created by a relatively small group of individuals or small “content development groups.” Once created, the content (HTML pages and media files) was uploaded to servers and then downloaded by “content consumers” who used a web browser to display webpages. The average person was not involved with creation of Web content. This period of time is now referred to as Web 1.0.
The evolution of the Web has led to what is called “Web 2.0”. What is new about Web 2.0 is the gradual and continuing increase in technologies that allow more people to participate in Web content creation. These facilitating technologies include advances at the level of the computer hardware available to most people and at the level of software that makes it easier for people to create Web content.
“Web 2.0 is both a usage and a technology paradigm. It is a collection of technologies, business strategies, and social trends. Web 2.0 is more dynamic and interactive than its predecessor, Web 1.0, letting users access content from a Web site and contribute to the contents of that Web site. Web 2.0 enables users to keep up with a site’s most recent content edits even without visiting the actual Web page. It also lets developers create new Web applications that draw on data, information or services available on the Internet to more precisely manufacture their programs to fit their desired demographic.”
Web 2.0 is an umbrella term encompassing several new Web technologies. These technologies will be outlined later. “It harnesses the Web in a more interactive and collaborative manner, emphasizing peers’ social interaction and collective intelligence, and presents new opportunities for leveraging the Web and engaging its users more effectively.”
Web 2.0 describes World Wide Web websites that emphasize user-generated content, usability (ease of use, even by non-experts), and interoperability (this means that a website can work well with other products, systems and devices) for end users. The term was popularized by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty at the O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference in late 2004, though it was coined by Darcy DiNucci in 1999. Web 2.0 does not refer to an update to any technical specification, but to changes in the way Web pages are designed and used.
A Web 2.0 website may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to the first generation of Web 1.0-era websites where people were limited to the passive viewing of content. As well, in contrast to Web 1.0-era websites, in which the text was often unlinked, users of Web 2.0 websites can often “click” on words in the text to access additional content on the website or be linked to an external website. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites and social media sites (e.g., Facebook), blogs, wikis, folksonomies (“tagging” keywords on websites and links), video sharing sites (e.g., YouTube), hosted services, Web applications (“apps”), collaborative consumption platforms, and mashup applications, that allow users to blend the digital audio from multiple songs together to create new music.
Whether Web 2.0 is substantively different from prior Web technologies has been challenged by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who describes the term as jargon. His original vision of the Web was “a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write”. On the other hand, the term Semantic Web (sometimes referred to as Web 3.0) was coined by Berners-Lee to refer to a web of data that can be processed by machines.
“Blog” is an abbreviated version of “weblog,” which is a term used to describe websites that maintain an ongoing chronicle of information. A blog features diary-type commentary and links to articles on other websites, usually presented as a list of entries in reverse chronological order. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects. Usenet discussion group contributors and personal website authors were among the first bloggers (see Wikipedia). Starting in the late 90s, websites and software devoted to blogging became available via the World Wide Web. In the early part of this century, blogging increased in popularity and is now an integral feature of many online communities and social networking sites such as MySpace, Blogspot or Tumblr. See also blogs here at Wikiversity. Remember that blogs are public, not the same as magazine articles, books, or personal journals hidden between the mattress and the box spring. Blogs are generally communities networked by subjects, interests, and niches. When a user enters the blogosphere, whether as a blogger or a blog reader, they are joining a community (or communities) of people who usually encourage a high degree of interaction. Think of it this way: when you read a magazine article, it is a one-way communication. Knowledge is only transferred from the writer to the reader. Blogs are a bit different. With blogs, this transfer of knowledge from writer to reader still occurs, but a blog affords the reader to then become a writer as well. There is a comment field where the reader can leave feedback, share additional information, or ask questions. And bloggers encourage this. Often they want to start and maintain open lines of communication with their followers. Conversations also exist between blogs. Bloggers routinely link to other bloggers in their communities through blogrolls and in-post references. This not only broadens conversations, it also raises reader awareness about other resources.
Web 2.0 is, by design, immersive, interactive, and collaborative. This course is based on experiential learning. In other words, to really increase your knowledge regarding Web 2.0, you must personally use and utilize Web 2.0 tools and services. This holds true whether you are interested in self-paced independent study or using this course as a guide to teach others. It is essential that you stay active and contribute to online communities and knowledge, and reflect on your experiences. Start a blog, WordPress, Facebook page, or similar forum that can contain your personal reflection. As you go through the course, try to write a reflective post on each new thing that you learn.