Is “web 2.0” relevant?

I haven’t had time to explain my vision on what web 2.0 is and what it means to me. I understood that most people who read my blog know what’s it all about but I think there are so many definitions in the blogosphere that I find myself obliged to explain what I understand under web 2.0 and why I’m obsessed with it.

 It’s not what the software does, it’s what the user does

What is it?
Web 2.0 looks like an upgrade of a software package but it isn’t. The world wide web as described by Tim Berners-Lee hasn’t really changed. The technology behind it hasn’t. Berners-Lee pointed out that the things that drove web 1.0 also underpin web 2.0 (HTML, http, SVG, web standards, document object mode, javascript, …)
But what is web 1.0? People say that it was all about connecting computers and making content (information) available. Web 2.0 would mean for those same people that it is all about connecting people and facilitating all kinds of collaboration.
I believe this is mostly true and correct.

Web 1.0 refers to the World Wide Web as a collection of connected computers and the first generation of web-based services. The aim was pushing content from a publisher to a consumer in a unidirectional way.

Web 2.0 is a collection of connected people (communities) and the second generation of web-based services which aim is to empower people in communicating and facilitating their (online) lives. The World Wide Web became social and emphasized on networking, collaboration and user generated/created content. People are able not only to download but also to upload stuff. The interactivity stands central and is characterized by:

  • transparency (open communication)
  • empowerment of the users (decentralization of authority through self-regulating communities)
  • freedom for developers & end-users (share and re-use)
  • user friendliness (intuitive functionality)

This shift has become possible as people started to see the internet not only as an application but as a platform where they are empowered to choose with whom they connect, what tools they want to use, and how they can organize/push the content that matters to them. The media became social, the market became a dialogue. The web as a collection of content, people & tools makes us empowered consumers and that’s what I think web 2.0 is.

The emergence and rise of mass social media

The transition of websites as information silos evolved to sources of content and functionality (web-based services).
The social phenomenon is leveraged by the architecture of participation. The architecture of participation encourages users to add value (how? see this post) because it creates win-win situations.

So how is all this relevant?
It’s always a good idea to understand the drivers and the mechanisms. If you understand the drivers, you can try to predict how it all will evolve.

People are empowered by:

  • The social architecture that enable people to interact.
  • The application architecture (including user interfaces, databases storage, application logics). This enables people to store, organize and categorize content, people and tools.
  • Through the architecture of participation, people are encouraged to add value with implicit and explicit contributions (applications, content and people).

Web 2.0 framework

The convergence of complementary technology trends will reach new levels of World Wide Web maturity. This becomes possible when we have everything always & everywhere (portability is a driver) in a personalized way (p.e. roaming identity, data & reputation).

Nova Spivack sums it up well. What is needed to take it up to the next level which he calls web 3.0 (and I don’t because he underestimates humanity in favor of technology, I think it’s WebNu):

  • Ubiquitous connectivity (broadband adoption, mobile internet access, web services interoperability)
  • Open technologies (API’s, open source software platforms, open data)
  • Open identity (roaming portable identity and personal data)
  • The intelligent web (semantic web technologies including semantic application platforms and statement-based datastores)
  • Distributed databases (the world wide database enabled by Semantic Web technologies)
  • Intelligent applications (machine learning and reasoning)

So, I learn from web 2.0 that we have to create web services, not websites. Connect to people and use the community. Make everything accessible and portable.
The shift is also taking place in society. It’s not important anymore what you know. It’s important how (fast) you are able to find the content you need and what you choose to do with acquired knowledge. I think you should share it. 😉

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