Web 2.0... anything more than just a marketing term?


I've heard so many people talk about the Web 2.0... or write about it... just as if it were an actual physical reality, a fact of life. I've already commented about this... about a year ago. Yet I keep hearing this. I keep seeing new definitions of Web 2.0... as if there was a desperate need to find a way to define this inexistant reality to give it some kind of legitimity.

The latest attempt to date compares the ease of creating web sites pre-web-2.0 and post.

I still don't buy it. 

Before, building a web site required knowledge of HTML, and a proper
HTML editor (vi for some of us, something more fancy for others). If
you had to install the stuff to run it on a machine, you basically
installed Linux (or Solaris, or Windows, or \*BSD) and then slapped
Apache on top. Pretty simple... and direct.

Nowadays, you have to install Apache, PHP, Ruby, who knows what other
toolkit, and configure all of these building blocks to talk to
each-other. Anybody here know what ap-php is? Well, that's the
additional piece of code needed to tell Apache to know about PHP... and
so on. Then you have to learn HTML, PHP, Python, Ruby, AJAX, and who
knows what else.

What is easier, these days, with the so called "web 2.0" (which I still
consider a fancy marketing term, with no actual measurable difference
from, say, web 1.1, web 1.2, web 1.3...) is that there are a bunch of
portals that people have taken GREAT PAINS to build, which allow
unknowledgeable users to actually publis stuff. But these "publishers"
don't know how to create a web site anymore than they did before. They
just are given the tools to put stuff in placeholders. They still, for
most of the "facebook" users, have no clue as to what gears are turning
behind the blue and white screen they are putting their stuff in. Heck,
they probably even don't understand (or care about) the privacy issues
related to puting on line what they are publishing.

Now back to web 2.0... why 2.0? I wasn't really aware that the web had
reached a 1.0. As far as I'm concerned, since I first saw the Mozaic"
web browser appear around 1994, the web has slowly, but surely, been
evolving. It's not reached, yet, the "itchi dan", the first degree that
will show some maturity.

It's gone from static, non moving, pages, with links (Tim Berner Lee's
original web - would THAT be 1.0? or is it web pre-release-0.1?)

To static pages with moving things (thanks to our Java, then Flash,
then ActiveX)

To being an insecure space (thanks to ActiveX - ok, maybe in some cases
to Flash, and even to a lesser extent, in some rare cases, Java)

To being a searchable web (Yahoo)

To being a commercial web

To being an advertizement powered web

To hosting the dot.com bubble burst

To being an even more searchable web (Google)

To starting again to be a commercial web (maybe it never stopped that,
but just slowed down)

To begin a collaborative web (wikipedia)

To being a res-publica, a web of it's own denisens (facebook, myspace,
and other sites where the user creates the content)

What will be the next steps? Which one of the previous steps marks Web
1.0? Any one could... but then the next ones would be 2.0, 3.0, 4.0...

I prefer to think that the web has no version number. It's a constantly
evolving entity, and there will never be clearly defined thresholds
that we will reasonably be able to label as 1.0, 2.0, 3.0.

Proof? Getting back to "2.0" ... nobody really agrees on a common

It's because there IS no 2.0... just as there WAS no 1.0... And there
WON'T BE a 3.0...

If it was a discreet progression (1.0, 2.0, 3.0), it might stop at any
of these values.

It's all an analog progression through the digital space. That's why it
will always continue to evolve.


While web 2.0 may not be a physical reality, it's not just a marketing term. Web 2.0 is a term that describes a movement. A website doesn't become "web 2.0" just by claiming so on its pages, but by demonstrating it through content generation and user experience.

Don't think of "2.0" too literally. There may not be a 1.0 that existed before 2.0, or a 3.0 that follows 2.0. Or 1.1, for that matter. Could have been called Web++, or Web 2005, but the choice of "web 2.0" conveys instantly that whatever it means, it's a step up, an improvement on the web as we knew it.

Posted by Robert Chien on February 19, 2008 at 07:51 PM CET #

I find the Web2[dot]oh distinction very useful, albeit ambiguous. Admittedly, it's an arbitrary number. 2.6 is arbitrary too, and it has several technical and social interpretations by Linux kernel developers. But efficiency is improved when we have 2.6 as a proxy for scheduler, memory allocation, and device support advantages.

What will be the next steps? Whatever it's version number, it's already here. "It's just unevenly distributed." Some are calling it the Semantic Web. For convenience sake in this thread, let's call it Web3.0 (-: Again, an arbitrary and ambiguous distinction, but becoming more useful every day, I'd say Web3.0 is to massively distributed granular data mining and indexing, as Web2.0 is to the participatory read/write web. It's here, and it's already gobbling compute and storage resource at least as fast as the prior versions of the Web.

Posted by Scott on February 24, 2008 at 12:40 PM CET #

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