« Atlas Shrugged: The Movie | Main | Another Great Night at Fenway Park »

May 26, 2006

What is Web 2.0 Really?

I've been thinking on this for awhile: Web 2.0, what is it really? Today's O'Reilly PR mess spurred me along.

For folks who make a visit to the ring of O'Reilly conferences you've no doubt heard Tim speak about it on at least one occasion. If you ask Tim to define Web 2.0 he'll say something along the lines of merging business and technology to utilize the web as a platform and take advantage of new opportunities. He'll probably throw in something about aggregation and presentation of data, most importantly consumer data, input, or feedback. You can read Tim's full explanation for more details.

If I had to define Web 2.0 I'd say it's rethinking and revisiting what's been done on the web up to this point and finding new ways with new technology to create new, or rebuild existing tools to give end users a better experience using their web browser in a business or personal setting. I'd throw in the data aggregation as well.

When I talk to other tech folks I think there's a different view of Web 2.0. I've heard several people comment on how it's just eye-candy, or slick sites that don't really serve a purpose. The perception of Web 2.0 seems more driven from what people see in it's implementation rather than what Tim suggests as it's governing principles. Because of that I'd suggest the public perception of Web 2.0 is that it's a lot more about AJAX and other slick UI elements, not about the web as a platform or the underlying data.

An example. Tim suggests that the Name Voyager is an incredible merge of historicial data and presentation that makes aggregated data much easier for users to get at. End users see a cool toy with a lot of colors that is fun to play with for awhile but serves little purpose for most folks. GarbageScout or ChicagoCrime.org probably fall under the same "that's a cool idea and UI." Folks who don't collect garbage NY or try to avoid living in fear in Chicago might argue about it's usefullness.

To further the point, according to Tim's article, the WikiPedia is an example of Web 2.0. I'd guess that if you asked folks who had at least heard of Web 2.0 about the WikiPedia most would say it's not a Web 2.0 app because there's no telltale signs like an AJAX interface or phonetic name (ie WikiPdea).

Am I way off? Are my conversations with folks about Web 2.0 unique, or is that the general sense other folks have?

There's a slew of information about the happenings in Web 2.0 over at the Web 2.0 Workgroup.

Posted by mike at May 26, 2006 8:56 AM