The exact meaning of Web 2.0 is not concrete. Some define it as a totally new internet. Others dispute it has any meaning at all. Most, however, agree with how the page at www.wikipedia.org describes it: “Web 2.0 is a trend in World Wide Web technology, and web design, a second generation of web-based communities and hosted services such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies, which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users.”
Websites incorporating these Web 2.0 ideals give internet users a chance to do more than just retrieve information. These sites are often based on what is called an “Architecture of participation,” which relies on users to contribute to in addition to retrieving information. According to www.wikipedia.org, which itself is a product of Web 2.0, “This stands in contrast to very old traditional websites, the sort which limited visitors to viewing and whose content only the site’s owner could modify.”
Paul Graham, wrote at his site, www.paulgraham.com, in an essay entitled “Web 2.0,” that Web 2.0 is nothing new at all, that it is merely a term meant to label the treads websites are currently applying. He writes that “The ‘trends’ we’re seeing now are simply the inherent nature of the web emerging from under the broken models that got imposed on it during the Bubble.”
Even before the term Web 2.0 was created, as www.wikipedia.org points out, sites such as Amazon.com already featured many similar ideas, such as allowing users to “write reviews and consumer guides…in a form of self-publishing.”
Whether Web 2.0 is nothing more than a term labeling the current internet trends which support user collaboration and contribution or if it is actually a totally new version of the World Wide Web is uncertain. It is too early to tell. What is certain is that this new democratic way of doing things on the internet is here to stay. The popularity of sites such as www.youtube.com, www.flickr.com, and www.wikipedia.org make this evident.
Here is a list of websites made in the new tradition of Web 2.0: www.sacredcowdung.com/archives/2006/03/all_things_web.html
One the lesser known and most innovative sites from the above list is www.librarything.com. The site incorporates nearly every aspect of what Web 2.0 is all about. Its main purpose is to catalogue your personal library of books. After making an account—a free one allows 200 books and a paid account allows an infinite amount—one is able to import books, and their information, from one of the dozen of online book dealers on the net, such as amazon.com. The user can then rate, comment, and provide other information and insight on the imported books. Each individual’s library, which can be updated at anytime, then acts—using tagging, clouds, and other Web 2.0 innovations—to make connections with other readers of similar interests. The site also has its own blogs, message boards, and countless other Web 2.0 creations to strength the community. Here is my library: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/DuckSoup.