Web 2.0 – Welcome to the New World
A very interesting series on the Discovery channel couple of weeks back prompted me to write this article. The show was called “Download – the story of the internet”. It was a remarkably made series on the history and progress of the internet.
Internet has become a part of our life similar to mobile and transport. Life would seem incomplete without internet. A substantial part of our time is spent on internet these days and it seems to be growing day-by-day. We are now in an age of Web 2.0. I’ll try and throw light on what it means from my perspective. Web 2.0 is a very vague term and there is no clear definition or meaning attached to it. Hence I take the liberty to put my own definition to it as well J
In the early days of internet, it was used to host websites and share information with the users. Typically people used to log on to a site, read the content, and log off. Then came emails and chat, and people started communicating with each other. Still the communication was restricted to between individuals.
Then Google revolutionized the internet and made it vastly assessable to the masses. It started motivating people to put up more websites and share more content. Still the communication on the internet was one way only.
I think the turning point was development of online applications that enabled people to post queries and get replies from multiple people. Often these people interacting were strangers to each and shared one thing in common – the domain or the topic of discussions. These online applications were called Forums. Suddenly the internet was opened to masses and provided a platform to create applications that enable people to interact with each other in the real sense. All boundaries were opened up and anyone was allowed to participate. You no longer needed a static website to provide you the information that you need. The information was getting updated real time and with more participation.
These applications that enable users to interact with each other, generate their own content and share it, view others content and give their feedback is the heart of what we call as Web 2.0.
In last 4 – 5 years lots of such applications have come up and have given the web a new meaning. The underlying technology of the internet has been the same since inception it’s just how people are using it has changed. Hence there is no real meaning of the term Web 2.0.
The applications that are popular in the Web 2.0 era are –
· Social networking sites such as Orkut, MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Second Life etc
· Blogging sites such as Blogspot, Wordpress, Typepad etc
· Photo Sharing sites such as Picasaweb, Flickr etc
· Video sharing sites such as Youtube, Google Video etc
· Wiki’s such as Wikipedia, WikiWikiWeb, Memory Alpha etc
· Social Bookmarking or tagging sites such as del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, Digg, reddit etc
· File sharing sites such as Megaupload, File Factory, RapidShare etc
· E-commerce sites such as Amazon, E-bay, Alibaba etc
· Live casting sites such as Ustream, Justin.tv, Stickam etc
· Audio / Music sharing sites such as imeem, The Hype Machine, Last.fm, ccMixter
· Online game sites such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy etc
· Content aggregators like iGoogle, My Yahoo, Google Reader, Google News etc
This is just a partial list and there are thousands of these kinds that are flourishing over the internet.
The key thing to observe in all these websites and the popularity associated with them is that the user is at the centre of it. All of these sites are based on “user generated content” paradigm. The users log on to these sites, register themselves, write / upload share content, edit content, view content all by themselves. The users form groups based on their interests and liking. They generate content and they consume content amongst themselves. In a way these applications have enabled users to move part of their life on the web. And according to me this is what Web 2.0 is all about.
The popularity of these applications is only because they are user centric and they give the users the freedom to use it as per their liking. As Chad Hurley founder of You Tube rightly put it behind the success of You Tube that these days’ people like to see themselves or their friends.
Slowly we are shifting from a world where we had no choice but to read and view content published by select few people via TV, Movies, Books, Newspaper, Websites to a world where we create content, share it, and view it amongst ourselves.
Welcome to the new world of Web 2.0!