May 30, 2007

What is Web 2.0 & Why Is It Important?

The future of the Internet is often described by the term Web 2.0. What is Web 2.0? The term was coined a couple of years ago and has gained considerable traction in the online world. Here's one definition that has dozens of variations:

As used by its supporters, the phrase "Web 2.0" can also refer 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"
  • Enhanced organization and categorization of content, emphasizing deep linking
  • A rise in the economic value of the Web, possibly surpassing the impact of the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. (This description is from Wikipedia.com, itself a harbinger of the Web 2.0 world).
Note the emphasis on open communication, freedom to share and reuse, all characteristics of a participatory platform that resides outside one's PC or access device. Unstated, but essential to participating in the Web of today and tomorrow, is a speedy connection to the Web, i.e., broadband.

Social networks is a current buzz term that encompasses sites like MySpace, Facebook, blogs and other 'community' sites where users generate the vast majority of content. This is the outworking of broad-based participation and portends that people who do not participate will be left out of a reality that is exploding across the world. People without the access and skills will be rapidly left behind in the culture, and will be at a great deficit compared to folks who have the skills and access to the Web. It's not these applications that are important, it's the trend they exhibit.

Too many online users are wed to email and sending/receiving information as attachments that are created in PC resident word processing and spreadsheet programs. What we are experiencing in Web 2.0 is a plethora of tools and applications that are Web, not PC, based that require only a browser for interaction.

Success, however defined, in life will depend on whether a person connects to this new online world and uses the tools and applications to make his/her way in life. The future of information technology and access to it will determine whether people succeed on par with driving an automobile today.

Active participation with technology will strongly influence the health of our Chittenden County community.
Post a Comment