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What Exactly is Web 2.0?

by Nina Menezes

If there was one word that could sum up Web 2.0 it would be participation.

Whereas the web began as a means of disseminating information on static pages for people to read, Web 2.0 invites people to join in, add to, create and push the Internet in new directions.

It’s a little like being in a restaurant where you’re not only invited to add your own recipes into the mix, but are also invited to come into the kitchen and prepare a meal yourself.

Instead of that restaurant waiting for the chef to cook something different, it becomes a new eating experience almost hourly.

So, let’s take a look at how Web 2.0 engages its users to create and expand the boundaries.

Blogs
Blogs are one of the first things that come to mind when people think about user generated content. Although they’ve been around for a while, their popularity seems to be growing, as millions of new blogs are added online everyday.

Wikis
A wiki is similar to a blog, but the difference is that it allows everyone to add to the content. The most famous example is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. It’s basically an online encyclopedia that allows anyone to add to, and edit, the information provided.

File sharing
While the ‘old web’ allowed people to put up their own pages to share photos and information, Web 2.0 introduces sites like Flickr.

On the surface, Flickr seems like an ordinary photo sharing site, but it actually allows users to shape the site itself by providing tools for people to build unique repositories for their own content.

Social networking
Sites like these allow users to create their own unique pages in order to meet up with other people. They go way beyond a simple bulletin board type of setup by allowing people to add photos, music, links, blogs and just about anything else to their page. MySpace and FaceBook are two great examples of social networking sites that take advantage of Web 2.0.

Web site applications
Web sites that function more like software applications are another Web 2.0 creation. Think of Google Maps, Google Docs and Gmail.

While this list isn’t definitive, it’s a good example of how the web has embraced the users who surf it. And as technology improves -- and mobile devices become more powerful -- we may eventually see a Web 3.0 emerge in the next few years!

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