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Fei Truong

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

What is Web 2.0?

                What does Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Wikipedia, Blogging, and YouTube have in common? They are all the result of the evolution of the World Wide Web, also known has Web 2.0. What exactly is Web 2.0? Although there aren’t any clear and specific definitions for Web 2.0, Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as a term associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. The user is no longer just the viewer, but also the participant.

Why Web 2.0?

With billions of users everyday, who would expect the Web to remain static? The evolution of the Web was inevitable. In years past, the web was one dimensional. Websites were created and meant to be viewed and only viewed. Updates were provided only at the creator's discretion and periodically on their own time. With the rise in popularity of the internet, people began feeling the need to be able to voice their opinions, thoughts, and feedback through the Web. Now you don’t have to know the languages/codes or be some tech savvy geek to contribute to the Web. You can see this on sites such as Yahoo News where readers are allowed to voice their opinion on the articles and have others reply with feedback. Social media has been surging on the Web and Web 2.0 allows for the platform of these sites. Simply put, Web 2.0 allows all users of the Web to exercise control over data. It promotes freedom, openness, and collective intelligence—what the internet is basically all about. What was once an “invite-only” party is now an all out free-for-all. You now have children uploading their own videos onto the web, teenagers blogging about anything and everything, readers participating in discussions, the list goes on!

Here are some examples of the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0:

Web 1.0   Web 2.0
DoubleClick --> Google AdSense
Ofoto --> Flickr
Akamai --> BitTorrent
mp3.com --> Napster
Britannica Online --> Wikipedia
personal websites --> blogging
evite --> upcoming.org and EVDB
domain name speculation --> search engine optimization
page views --> cost per click
screen scraping --> web services
publishing --> participation
content management systems --> wikis
directories (taxonomy) --> tagging ("folksonomy")
stickiness --> syndication

What are the benefits of Web 2.0?

There are many benefits to Web 2.0. It brings the familiarity and usability of the desktop to the web, allowing anyone with a general sense of computers and internet to contribute to the Web. Before, users had to be familiar with HTML and website design. Even then, sites created were more like personal diaries or a one-way conversation. There was no connection or interaction between the blogger and the reader, between the video creator and the viewer, or even between a celebrity and his/her fan. Web 2.0 simplifies this and creates a more user-friendly environment. It opens up a line of communication for everyone and puts the user in the driver’s seat. The Web is now more user-oriented, user-driven, user-produced, and user-involved. It is conducive to collaboration from all sides. The information retrieved from user-interaction can be very beneficial for end-users and businesses as well. It allows for more of a sense of what the “world” is discussing, which way fashion is heading, certain trends, musical insight, and the list goes on. You can now leave feedback on product pages or even tweet or comment about it on your Facebook page. This is all valuable information from a Marketing point of view.  Rather than getting your information from a single author, information can be accessed through different perspectives thus giving you a broader view of things. It provides a platform for ideas to manifest from all aspects and not just a single view—a “digital democracy” if you will. You are essentially extending a part of who you are and helping to contribute to the growth of the Web.

What are the disadvantages of Web 2.0?

The openness of Web 2.0 also means that it is not always so seamless. Besides the fact that users tend to grow dependent on the Web for information (issues such as problem in connection or hackers already existed for Web 1.0), there are new disadvantages with Web 2.0. By allowing just about anyone to have control over the data will have negative results such as trolling and spamming which is inevitably unavoidable. Although this may be the case, the overall benefit of Web 2.0 greatly outweighs the negative effects of those who feel the need to spam and troll. The creators of the sites are placing what is called “radical trust” in the users of the Web. You can see examples of this by viewing feedback on news articles and videos—feedback consisting of non-relevant and oftentimes explicit material. In contrast, users are also able to flag certain comments or information to be removed. Users must also be aware of their identity and the information they decide to express on the Web. Users must bear in mind the lucidity of their action. This is basically a reflection of what you see in the real world and it goes hand in hand since Web 2.0 is the evolution and integration of the web and the real world. Who is to say what Web 2.0 will evolve to? The possibilities are endless.