Sunday, December 17, 2006

Web 2.0

Web 2.0
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Web 2.0, a phrase coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004,[1] refers to a perceived or proposed second generation of Internet-based services—such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies—that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users. O'Reilly Media, in collaboration with MediaLive International, used the phrase as a title for a series of conferences, and since 2004 certain technical and marketing communities have adopted and loosely adapted the phrase.
1 Introduction
2 Characteristics of Web 2.0
3 Technology overview
4 Innovations associated with "Web 2.0"
4.1 Web-based communities
4.2 Web-based applications and desktops
4.3 Rich Internet applications
4.3.1 Server-side software
4.3.2 Client-side software
4.4 RSS
4.5 Web protocols
5 Criticism
6 Trademark controversy
7 See also
8 References
9 External links
9.1 Supportive
9.2 Critical

[edit] Introduction

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Alluding to the version-numbers that commonly designate software upgrade, the phrase "Web 2.0" hints at an improved form of the World Wide Web.
In the opening talk of the first Web 2.0 conference, Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle summarized key principles of Web 2.0 applications:
the Web as a platform
data as the driving force
network effects created by an architecture of participation
innovation in assembly of systems and sites composed by pulling together features from distributed, independent developers (a kind of "open source" development)
lightweight business models enabled by content and service syndication
the end of the software adoption cycle ("the perpetual beta")
software above the level of a single device, leveraging the power of The Long Tail.
Earlier users of the phrase "Web 2.0" employed it as a synonym for "Semantic Web," and indeed, the two concepts complement each other. The combination of social-networking systems such as FOAF and XFN with the development of tag-based folksonomies, delivered through blogs and wikis, sets up a basis for a semantic-web environment.
As used by its proponents, the phrase "Web 2.0" refers to one or more of the following:
The transition of web-sites from isolated information silos to sources of content and functionality, thus becoming computing platforms serving web applications to end-users
A social phenomenon embracing an approach to generating and distributing Web content itself, characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and "the market as a conversation"
A more organized and categorized content, with a far more developed deeplinking web architecture than hithertofore
A shift in economic value of the Web, possibly surpassing that of the dot com boom of the late 1990s
A marketing-term used to differentiate new web-based firms from those of the dot-com boom, which (due to the bust) subsequently appeared discredited
The resurgence of excitement around the implications of innovative web-applications and services that gained a lot of momentum[citation needed] around mid-2005
Some commentators associate the phrase 'Web 2.0" with companies or products that embody its principles.[citation needed] Tim O'Reilly gave examples in his description of his "four plus one" levels in the hierarchy of Web 2.0-ness: [2]
Level-3 applications, the most "Web 2.0", which could only exist on the Internet, deriving their power from the human connections and network effects Web 2.0 makes possible, and growing in effectiveness the more people use them. O'Reilly gives as examples: eBay, craigslist, Wikipedia,, Skype, dodgeball, and Adsense.
Level-2 applications, which can operate offline but which gain advantages from going online. O'Reilly cited Flickr, which benefits from its shared photo-database and from its community-generated tag database.
Level-1 applications, also available offline but which gain features online. O'Reilly pointed to Writely (since 10 October 2006: Google Docs & Spreadsheets, offering group-editing capability online) and iTunes (because of its music-store portion).
Level-0 applications would work as well offline. O'Reilly gave the examples of MapQuest, Yahoo! Local, and Google Maps. Mapping applications using contributions from users to advantage can rank as level 2.
non-web applications like email, instant-messaging clients and the telephone.
Examples of Web 2.0 (other than those cited by O'Reilly) include digg, Shoutwire,, and Technorati.

Time bar of Web 2.0 buzz words.[3] This image shows the age of some buzzwords sometimes used in Web 2.0 lingo and its dependencies.
Commentators see many recently-developed concepts and technologies as contributing to Web 2.0, including weblogs, linklogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds and other forms of many-to-many publishing; social software, Web APIs, Web standards, online Web services, and many others.
Proponents of the Web 2.0 concept say that it differs from early Web development (retrospectively labeled Web 1.0) in that it moves away from static web-sites, the use of search engines, and surfing from one website to the next, towards a more dynamic and interactive World Wide Web. Others argue that later developments have not actually superseded the original and fundamental concepts of the WWW. Skeptics may see the term "Web 2.0" as little more than a buzzword; or they may suggest that it means whatever its proponents want it to mean in order to convince their customers, investors and the media that they have begun building something fundamentally new, rather than continuing to develop and use well-established technologies. [4]

On September 30, 2005, Tim O'Reilly wrote a seminal piece neatly summarizing the subject. The mind-map pictured above (constructed by Markus Angermeier on November 11, 2005) sums up the memes of Web 2.0, with example sites and services attached.
Earlier web applications or "Web 1.0" (so dubbed after the event by proponents of Web 2.0) often consisted of static HTML pages, rarely (if ever) updated. They depended solely on HTML, which a new Internet content-provider could learn fairly easily. The success of the dot-com era arguably depended on a more dynamic World Wide Web (sometimes labeled Web 1.5) where content-management systems served dynamic HTML web-pages generated on-the-fly from a content database more amenable than raw HTML-code to change. In both senses, marketeers regarded so-called "eyeballing" as intrinsic to the experience of the web, thus making page-hits and visual aesthetics important factors.
Proponents of the Web 2.0 approach believe that web usage has started increasingly moving towards interaction and towards rudimentary social networks, which can serve content that exploits network effects with or without creating a visual, interactive web-page. In one view, Web 2.0 sites act more as points of presence or user-dependent web-portals than as traditional web-sites. They have become so internally complex that new Internet users cannot create analogous web-sites, but remain mere users of services provided by specialist professional experts.
Access to consumer-generated content facilitated by Web 2.0 brings the web closer to Tim Berners-Lee's original concept of the web as a democratic, personal, and DIY medium of communications.

[edit] Characteristics of Web 2.0

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While interested parties continue to debate the definition of a Web 2.0 application, some suggest that a Web 2.0 web-site may exhibit some basic characteristics. These might include:
"Network as platform" — delivering (and allowing users to use) applications entirely through a browser.[5] See also Web operating system.
Users owning the data on the site and exercising control over that data.[6][5]
An architecture of participation and democracy that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it.[5][1]
A rich, interactive, user-friendly interface based on Ajax[5][1] or similar frameworks.
Some social-networking aspects.[6][5]
The concept of Web-as-participation-platform captures many of these characteristics. Bart Decrem, founder and former CEO of Flock calls Web 2.0 the "participatory Web"[citation needed], and regards Web-as-information-source as Web 1.0.

[edit] Technology overview
The complex and evolving technology infrastructure of Web 2.0 includes server-software, content-syndication, messaging-protocols, standards-based browsers with plugins and extensions, and various client-applications. These differing but complementary approaches provide Web 2.0 with information-storage, creation, and dissemination capabilities that go beyond what the public formerly expected of web-sites.
A Web 2.0 website may typically feature a number of the following techniques:
Ajax-based rich Internet application techniques
Non-Ajax-based rich Internet application techniques
Semantically valid XHTML markup and/or the use of Microformats
Syndication and aggregation of data in RSS/Atom
Clean and meaningful URLs
Extensive use of folksonomies (in the form of tags or tagclouds, for example)
Use of wiki software either completely or partially (where partial use may grow to become the complete platform for the site)
Weblog publishing
REST or XML Webservice APIs

[edit] Innovations associated with "Web 2.0"

[edit] Web-based communities
Some web-sites that potentially sit under the Web 2.0 umbrella have built new online social networks amongst the general public.[citation needed] Some of these sites run social software where people work together.[citation needed] Other sites reproduce several individuals' RSS feeds on one page.[citation needed]
The syndication and messaging capabilities of Web 2.0 have fostered, to a greater or lesser degree, a tightly-woven social fabric among individuals.[citation needed] Arguably, the nature of online communities has changed in recent months and years.[citation needed] The meaning of these inferred changes, however, has pundits divided. Basically, ideological lines run thusly: Web 2.0 either empowers the individual and provides an outlet for the "voice of the voiceless";[citation needed] or it elevates the amateur to the detriment of professionalism, expertise and clarity.[citation needed]

[edit] Web-based applications and desktops
The richer user-experience afforded by Ajax has prompted the development of web-sites that mimic personal computer applications, such as word processing, the spreadsheet, and slide-show presentation. WYSIWYG wiki sites replicate many features of PC authoring applications. Still other sites perform collaboration and project management functions. Java enables sites that provide computation-intensive video capability. Google, Inc. acquired one of the best-known sites of this broad class, Writely, in early 2006.
Several browser-based "operating systems" or "online desktops" have also appeared. They essentially function as application platforms, not as operating systems per se. These services mimic the user experience of desktop operating-systems, offering features and applications similar to a PC environment. They have as their distinguishing characteristic the ability to run within any modern browser.
Numerous web-based application services appeared during the bubble of 1997–2001 and then vanished, having failed to gain a critical mass of customers. In 2005 WebEx acquired one of the better-known of these,, for slightly more than the total it had raised in venture capital after six years of trading.

[edit] Rich Internet applications
Main article: Rich Internet application
Recently, rich-Internet application techniques such as Ajax, Adobe Flash, Flex and OpenLaszlo have evolved that can improve the user-experience in browser-based applications. Flash/Flex involves a web-page requesting an update for some part of its content, and altering that part in the browser, without refreshing the whole page at the same time.

[edit] Server-side software
The functionality of Web 2.0 rich Internet applications builds on the existing Web server architecture, but puts much greater emphasis on back-end software. Syndication differs only nominally from the methods of publishing using dynamic content management, but web services typically require much more robust database and workflow support, and become very similar to the traditional intranet functionality of an application server. Vendor approaches to date fall under either a universal server approach, which bundles most of the necessary functionality in a single server platform, or a web-server plugin approach, which uses standard publishing tools enhanced with API interfaces and other tools..

[edit] Client-side software
The extra functionality provided by Web 2.0 depends on the ability of users to work with the data stored on servers. This can come about through forms in an HTML page, through a scripting language such as Javascript, or through Flash or Java. These methods all make use of the client computer to reduce the server workload.

[edit] RSS
Main article: RSS (file format)
The first and the most important step (according to one point of view) of evolution towards Web 2.0 involves the syndication of site content, using standardized protocols which permit end-users to make use of a site's data in another context, ranging from another web-site, to a browser plugin, or to a separate desktop application. Protocols which permit syndication include RSS (Really Simple Syndication — also known as "web syndication"), RDF (as in RSS 1.1), and Atom, all of them flavors of XML. Specialized protocols such as FOAF and XFN (both for social networking) extend functionality of sites or permit end-users to interact without centralized web-sites. (See microformats for more specialized data formats.)
Due to the recent development of these trends, many of these protocols remain de facto (rather than formal) standards.

[edit] Web protocols
Web communication protocols provide a key element of the Web 2.0 infrastructure. Major protocols include REST and SOAP.
REST (Representational State Transfer) indicates a way to access and manipulate data on a server using the HTTP verbs GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE
SOAP involves POSTing XML messages and requests to a server that may contain quite complex, but pre-defined, instructions for the server to follow
In both cases, an API defines access to the service. Often servers use proprietary APIs, but standard web-service APIs (for example, for posting to a blog) have also come into wide use. Most (but not all) communications with web services involve some form of XML (eXtensible Markup Language).
See also Web Services Description Language (WSDL) (the standard way of publishing a SOAP API) and the list of web-service specifications for links to many other web-service standards, including those many whose names begin 'WS-'.

[edit] Criticism

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Given the lack of set standards as to what "Web 2.0" actually means, implies, or requires, the term can mean radically different things to different people.
Many of the ideas of Web 2.0 already featured on networked systems well before the term "Web 2.0" emerged., for instance, has allowed users to write reviews and consumer guides since its launch in 1995, in a form of self-publishing. Amazon also opened its API to outside developers in 2002.[7] Prior art also comes from research in computer-supported collaborative learning and computer-supported cooperative work and from established products like Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino.
Conversely, when a web-site proclaims itself "Web 2.0" for the use of some trivial feature (such as blogs or gradient boxes) observers may generally consider it more an attempt at self-promotion than an actual endorsement of the ideas behind Web 2.0. "Web 2.0" in such circumstances has sometimes sunk simply to the status of a marketing buzzword, like 'synergy', that can mean whatever a salesperson wants it to mean, with little connection to most of the worthy but (currently) unrelated ideas originally brought together under the "Web 2.0" banner. The argument also exists that "Web 2.0" does not represent a new version of World Wide Web at all, but merely continues to use "Web 1.0" technologies and concepts.
Other criticism has included the term "a second bubble", suggesting that too many Web 2.0 companies attempt to develop the same product with a lack of business models. The Economist magazine has written of "Bubble 2.0".[citation needed]
Some venture capitalists have noted that the second generation of Web applications has too few users to make them an economically-viable target for consumer applications.[citation needed] Josh Kopelman noted that Web 2.0 excited only 53,651 people (the then number of subscribers to TechCrunch, a Weblog covering Web 2.0 matters).[citation needed]

[edit] Trademark controversy
In November 2003, CMP Media applied to the USPTO for a service mark on the use of the term "WEB 2.0" for live events. [8] On the basis of this application, CMP Media sent a cease-and-desist demand to the Irish non-profit organization IT@Cork on May 24, 2006, [9] but retracted it two days later. [10] The "WEB 2.0" service mark registration passed final PTO Examining Attorney review on May 10, 2006, but as of June 12, 2006 the PTO had not published the mark for opposition. The European Union application (which would confer unambiguous status in Ireland) remains pending (app no 004972212) after its filing on March 23, 2006.

[edit] See also
Library 2.0
Office 2.0
Service-oriented architecture
Web operating system
Social bookmarking
Social computing

[edit] References
^ a b c Paul Graham (November 2005). Web 2.0. Retrieved on 2006-08-02.
^ Tim O'Reilly (2006-07-17). Levels of the Game: The Hierarchy of Web 2.0 Applications. O'Reilly radar. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.
^ Jürgen Schiller García (2006-09-21). Web 2.0 Buzz Time bar. Retrieved on 2006-10-29.
^ Jeffrey Zeldman (2006-01-16). Web 3.0. A List Apart. Retrieved on 2006-05-27.
^ a b c d e Tim O'Reilly (2005-09-30). What Is Web 2.0. O'Reilly Network. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
^ a b Dion Hinchcliffe (2006-04-02). The State of Web 2.0. Web Services Journal. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
^ Tim O'Reilly (2002-06-18). Amazon Web Services API. O'Reilly Network. Retrieved on 2006-05-27.
^ USPTO serial number 78322306
^ O'Reilly and CMP Exercise Trademark on 'Web 2.0'. Slashdot (2006-05-26). Retrieved on 2006-05-27.
^ Nathan Torkington (2006-05-26). O'Reilly's coverage of Web 2.0 as a service mark. O'Reilly Radar. Retrieved on 2006-06-01.

[edit] External links

[edit] Supportive
Dion Hinchcliffe (2006-04-02). The State of Web 2.0. Web Services Journal. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Martin LaMonica (2006-03-14). Google deal highlights Web 2.0 boom. CNET. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Paul Graham (November 2005). Web 2.0. Retrieved on 2006-08-02.
Tim O'Reilly (2005-09-30). What Is Web 2.0. O'Reilly Network. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Kevin Kelly (August 2005). We Are the Web. Wired Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Richard MacManus and Joshua Porter (2005-05-04). Web 2.0 for Designers. Digital Web Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.

[edit] Critical
Nate Anderson (2006-09-01). Tim Berners-Lee on Web 2.0: "nobody even knows what it means". Retrieved on 2006-09-05.
The Enzyme that Won. The Economist (2006-05-11). Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Paul Boutin (2006-03-29). The new Internet "boom" doesn't live up to its name. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Russell Shaw (2005-12-17). Web 2.0? It doesn't exist. ZDNet. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Andrew Orlowski (2005-10-21). Web 2.0: It's … like your brain on LSD!. The Register. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
Nicholas G. Carr (2005-10-03). The amorality of Web 2.0. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.
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