What is Web 2.0?

My brother recently emailed me with the relatively simple question, “what exactly is Web 2.0?” I know a lot of other people out there have taken a stab at defining the damn thing, but I thought I’d take a shot as well. Here’s what I replied with:

It’s kind of a “catch-all” expression for a lot of the things that are going on online now. It generally refers to things like blogs and wikis and sites where the user is actually doing all the work (thus the common term “User-Generated Content” or UCG).

Just to confuse things, a lot of people have started referring to a specific design style and set of technologies as being “Web 2.0” as well. This tends to include:

  • anything mobile
  • anything including mapping/geo
  • AJAX (a JavaScript technique to avoid page-refreshes and make things more responsive)
  • widgets (which are a whole other confusing mess of their own)
  • anything that uses RSS/Atom feeds

So yeah… it’s not easy to give a simple one-line answer, because it’s kinda all of those things and more. Some people argue that it’s a “revolution” of the way the web works, because “Web 1.0” was all about companies or bigger groups publishing information online, whereas 2.0 is more about “the little guy” out there (users) controlling and publishing their own content (think YouTube, Flickr, etc). To me, it’s actually just an evolution though, a logical progression that just took a while because we had to figure out and refine the technologies to allow things to be easy enough for everyone to be involved.

That’s my take on it anyway 🙂