What does Web 2.0 mean?

Design & Build

“Where ‘Web 1.0’ was a dictatorship, led by those in control of websites, ‘Web 2.0’ is a collective experience shared by both creator and audience.”

On June 10th 2009 at 10:22 am GMT the Global Language Monitor declared the term ‘Web 2.0’ as the millionth word in the English language. So what is this idea that had taken the world by storm? What is this thing that had never existed a few years ago, only to now become the buzzword of the digital universe?

As hard definitions go, it’s pretty difficult to pin one down if you search the phrase in Google. Every attempt to illuminate its meaning finds itself conceding to the fact that there is no safe, clarified explanation. So what is it?

Web 1.0

I find that the best place to start anywhere is the beginning, and in this case, the beginning is ‘Web 1.0’. This term was coined as a retronym: an expression created in retrospect to distinguish one similar thing from its development (e.g. World War 1 in contrast to World war 2; the acoustic guitar as opposed to the electric guitar).

Do you remember when the internet first became readily available as a public resource? A website back then formed a very different picture to what the idea of a website is now. Then, the website was a creation that could only be changed by its creators. Websites were there for the sole purpose of being looked at; an audience could not get involved.

This is an extremely far cry from how we use the internet now.

The world of ‘Web 1.0’ was a world without Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, Wikipedia, Twitter, blogs, comments or photo sharing.

So what is Web 2.0?

The way I eventually grasped the concept of ‘Web 2.0’ was by narrowing down what it wasn’t. It’s definitely not a new version of the world wide web, as the name might suggest. It’s not specifically a trendy website that’s taken the world by storm, it’s not a piece of coding and it’s probably not something that you’ve even noticed as a change.

As far as I can see it, ‘Web 2.0’ can be best defined by the way we now USE the internet. Where websites were solely controlled by their creators in the era of ‘Web 1.0’, we can now interact with them on so many different levels. ‘Web 2.0’ is the level playing field that the world wide web has now become. Creative direction can now move into the hands of ordinary people as we add information, give feedback and share pictures or videos. Even the fact that now, we can do this pretty much anywhere as most mobile phones have an Internet connection plays into part of the ‘Web 2.0’ experience.

So what does this mean? ‘Web 2.0’ means that communities have spawned across the online world, that information sharing is no longer exclusive to the companies that have created the website and that one person’s experience of the world wide web is no longer one dimensional, but can span across so many levels of interactivity.

Where ‘Web 1.0’ was a dictatorship, led by those in control of websites, ‘Web 2.0’ is a collective experience shared by both creator and audience.

In my next blog entry i’ll be looking at how we can benefit from the ‘Web 2.0’ experience?

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