LeoGlossary: Web 2.0

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This is the second generation of the Internet.

The termed was popularized in 2004 to represent a change in the software that was being applied to the Internet. It essentially started the transition away from predominately one-way text to two-way communication using a variety of media.

Blogs, wikis, and social media became centerpieces of Web 2.0. This was embraced by the traditional information website that started to add comments to their articles.

With the advancement of communication systems along with increases in processing power, audio and video media forms that were added. This resulted in the posting of videos on social media applications such as YouTube and Facebook.

The architecture was a server based system with individual companies hosting the content on nodes they controlled. Web 2.0 expanded the features and functionality but also, according to critics, made it more centralized.

Monetization came from advertising along with the selling of the data accumulated from the userbase.

Cypherpunk Vision

The early developers of the Internet foresaw a problem potentially brewing. They felt that privacy and anonymity were essential. This is something espoused in the writings of people like David Chaum and Nick Szabo.

What they feared was an evolution where people did not have privacy or control over their data. This went counter to the early originators, many of whom took a stand against the U.S. Government regarding the fight over encryption.

Web 2.0 were their fears coming to realization. The challenge is that individuals are constantly monitored, with tracking taking place at all levels.

Web 2.0

The term "Web 2.0" was coined in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci in an article called "Fragmented Failure".

The Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in essentially static screenfuls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web 2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop. The Web will be understood not as screenfuls of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens. It will appear on your computer screen, on your TV set, your car dashboard, your cell phone, hand-held game machines and maybe even your microwave oven.

Interoperability was the key element in this evolution.

Web 2.0 become popular in when corporations like Google, Amazon, and Facebook made it easy to connect online transactions.

In 2004, the term began to popularize when O'Reilly Media and MediaLive hosted the first Web 2.0 conference. This brought the idea of "web as a platform" with different services and applications built on top.

It also promoted the idea of letting customers build the business for one. They argued that the activities of users generating content (in the form of ideas, text, videos, or pictures) could be captured to create value. This is exactly the model mega-tech companies followed.

Characteristics of Web 2.0

This epitomized the "network as a platform" idea. We see how people are able to join a platform and instantly immerse themselves in a network. This applies to both the computer structure along with the community of users. Here is where we get the term network effect from, which is the idea of a platform taking off as more users join the network. This, ultimately, leads to an increase in value.

Here are the key features of Web 2.0:

  • tagging - this allows content to be shared and discovered by having it categorized. Tagging another is a simple means of messaging. It makes information discovery much easier

  • rich user experience - features were added to platforms such as sizing of images or linking to more information on a page using a hyperlink (similar to what LeoGlossary does)

  • user participation - information is two way. This extends to the communication between content creator and consumer. We also see the same hold true for site owners and users. The feed back from the community can incentivize changes along with enhancements of the platform

  • Software-as-a-Service (Saas) - developers build a lot of infrastructure that can easily be incorporated into the expansion of the network

  • global participation - these networks are open to anyone with an Internet connection. This is where the huge numbers come from. Facebook has a reported 3 billion users on all its applications.

Siloed System

One of the reasons many feel the Internet is broken is the fact it became a siloed system. Unfortunately, the digital world became a system of "winner take most". Hence, there are a few dominant players in each area that serve a variety of purposes.

These are household names:

Each is a separate platform requiring different log in credentials. Each company is in control of the data, with Facebook and Google being two of the largest sellers of advertising.

These are major corporations with the money to finance large amount of infrastructure. Anything that occurs on their server system is under their control. There is no interoperability between the companies, only with the base protocols. Here is where the decentralized, open source nature of the foundation of the Internet was usurped by the establishment of centralized platforms.

This is a problem that Web 3.0 promises to solve.

Social Web

Web 2.0 introduced us to something called social web. The explosion of social media meant that many interactive features took off.

Here is a list of some of the elements:

  • blogging
  • podcasting
  • curating
  • tagging
  • commenting
  • wikis
  • social bookmarking
  • sharing
  • site ratings or review

The last was also applied to products as companies such as Amazon used their websites to allow customers to rate and review what they bought.

This led to the penetration into fields such as medicine, publishing, travel, education, and even government.


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