What Is Web 2.0 – O’Reilly Media
„[…] The concept of „Web 2.0“ began with a conference brainstorming session between O’Reilly and MediaLive International. Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and O’Reilly VP, noted that far from having „crashed“, the web was more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity. What’s more, the companies that had survived the collapse seemed to have some things in common. Could it be that the dot-com collapse marked some kind of turning point for the web, such that a call to action such as „Web 2.0“ might make sense? We agreed that it did, and so the Web 2.0 Conference was born.
In the year and a half since, the term „Web 2.0“ has clearly taken hold, with more than 9.5 million citations in Google. But there’s still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom.
In our initial brainstorming, we formulated our sense of Web 2.0 by example:
|Web 1.0||Web 2.0|
|evite||–>||upcoming.org and EVDB|
|domain name speculation||–>||search engine optimization|
|page views||–>||cost per click|
|screen scraping||–>||web services|
|content management systems||–>||wikis|
|directories (taxonomy)||–>||tagging („folksonomy“)|
The list went on and on. But what was it that made us identify one application or approach as „Web 1.0“ and another as „Web 2.0“? (The question is particularly urgent because the Web 2.0 meme has become so widespread that companies are now pasting it on as a marketing buzzword, with no real understanding of just what it means. The question is particularly difficult because many of those buzzword-addicted startups are definitely not Web 2.0, while some of the applications we identified as Web 2.0, like Napster and BitTorrent, are not even properly web applications!) We began trying to tease out the principles that are demonstrated in one way or another by the success stories of web 1.0 and by the most interesting of the new applications.
1. The Web As Platform
Like many important concepts, Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. You can visualize Web 2.0 as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from that core.
Figure 1 […]
The Web 2.0 lesson: leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head. […]
BitTorrent thus demonstrates a key Web 2.0 principle: the service automatically gets better the more people use it. […] There’s an implicit „architecture of participation“, a built-in ethic of cooperation, in which the service acts primarily as an intelligent broker, connecting the edges to each other and harnessing the power of the users themselves. […]
2. Harnessing Collective Intelligence
The central principle behind the success of the giants born in the Web 1.0 era who have survived to lead the Web 2.0 era appears to be this, that they have embraced the power of the web to harness collective intelligence: […]
The lesson: Network effects from user contributions are the key to market dominance in the Web 2.0 era. […]
If an essential part of Web 2.0 is harnessing collective intelligence, turning the web into a kind of global brain, the blogosphere is the equivalent of constant mental chatter in the forebrain, the voice we hear in all of our heads. It may not reflect the deep structure of the brain, which is often unconscious, but is instead the equivalent of conscious thought. And as a reflection of conscious thought and attention, the blogosphere has begun to have a powerful effect.
3. Data is the Next Intel Inside
[…] Database management is a core competency of Web 2.0 companies, so much so that we have sometimes referred to these applications as „infoware“ rather than merely software.
This fact leads to a key question: Who owns the data?
4. End of the Software Release Cycle
As noted above in the discussion of Google vs. Netscape, one of the defining characteristics of internet era software is that it is delivered as a service, not as a product. This fact leads to a number of fundamental changes in the business model of such a company:
- Operations must become a core competency. […]
- Users must be treated as co-developers, […].
6. Software Above the Level of a Single Device
One other feature of Web 2.0 that deserves mention is the fact that it’s no longer limited to the PC platform. […]
Of course, any web application can be seen as software above the level of a single device. After all, even the simplest web application involves at least two computers: the one hosting the web server and the one hosting the browser. And as we’ve discussed, the development of the web as platform extends this idea to synthetic applications composed of services provided by multiple computers.
[…] This is one of the areas of Web 2.0 where we expect to see some of the greatest change, as more and more devices are connected to the new platform. What applications become possible when our phones and our cars are not consuming data but reporting it? Real time traffic monitoring, flash mobs, and citizen journalism are only a few of the early warning signs of the capabilities of the new platform.
7. Rich User Experiences
[…] The competitive opportunity for new entrants is to fully embrace the potential of Web 2.0. Companies that succeed will create applications that learn from their users, using an architecture of participation to build a commanding advantage not just in the software interface, but in the richness of the shared data.
Core Competencies of Web 2.0 Companies
In exploring the seven principles above, we’ve highlighted some of the principal features of Web 2.0. Each of the examples we’ve explored demonstrates one or more of those key principles, but may miss others. Let’s close, therefore, by summarizing what we believe to be the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies:
- Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
- Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
- Trusting users as co-developers
- Harnessing collective intelligence
- Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
- Software above the level of a single device
- Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models
The next time a company claims that it’s „Web 2.0,“ test their features against the list above. The more points they score, the more they are worthy of the name. Remember, though, that excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven.
O’Reilly Media, Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
President and CEO