Characteristics of Web 2.0

by on July 9th, 2007

Web 2.0, a phrase coined by O’Reilly Media in 2003 and popularized by the first Web 2.0 conference in 2004, refers to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies — which facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. O’Reilly Media titled a series of conferences around the phrase, and it has since become widely adopted.

Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to Web technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the web as a platform. According to Tim O’Reilly, “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

Some technology experts, notably Tim Berners-Lee, have questioned whether one can use the term in a meaningful way, since many of the technology components of “Web 2.0” have existed since the early days of the Web.

Characteristics of “Web 2.0”

While interested parties continue to debate the definition of a Web 2.0 application, a Web 2.0 web-site may exhibit some basic common characteristics. These might include:

  • “Network as platform” — delivering (and allowing users to use) applications entirely through a browser.
  • Users owning the data on a site and exercising control over that data.
  • An architecture of participation that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it. This stands in sharp contrast to hierarchical access-control in applications, in which systems categorize users into roles with varying degrees of functionality.
  • A rich, interactive, user-friendly interface based on Ajax or similar frameworks.
  • Some social-networking aspects.