I must admit that I was so confused about what Web 2.0 actually meant before I read Tim O’Reilly’s report, What is Web 2.0. I’m still confused! It’s difficult to sum up the meaning of Web 2.0. However, O’Reilly’s method of comparing what he believes are Web 2.0 applications to Web 1.0 applications makes the concept a little easier to understand, but still left me confused. Although, I am not all that tech savy, so some of these things tend to go over my head.

My understanding of Web 2.0 is that it refers to applications that allow consumers to become more than just users of the application, but also co-developers. O’Reilly’s description of Web 2.0 is similar to Eric Raymond’s analysis of open-source software in the Cathedral and the Bazaar. The difference is that Web 2.0 applications are not always open-source software, but the principles are the same; release early and often, and treat users as co-developers. Web 2.0 means not having to wait for a release date for an update version of an application, and users acting as publishers by blogging and posting information to sites such as Wikipedia. The applications that are genuinely Web 2.0 allows the user to do all these things.

I can understand why writers like Paul Boutin are skeptical about this new phrase and believe that it is nothing but a “tech buzzword.” Boutin makes a powerful argument when he states that people are using Web 2.0 to mean different things and this makes it hard to understand what it really means. It would be helpful if someone can sum up its meaning in one sentence (that is not in tech-speak and actually makes sense).

The confusion and lack of cohesiveness among users of the term, takes away from the fact that it is used to describe software applications that are changing the way individuals use the Internet and other technology. For this reason, I think Web 2.0 is more than a buzzword. It represents how technology is evolving and allowing the user to participate in the process. O’Reilly argued:

The world of Web 2.0 is also the world of what Dan Gillmor calls We the Media a world in which the former audience, not a few people in a back room, decides what’s important.

Advertisements