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Understanding Web 2.0
In the year and a half since, the term "Web 2.0" has clearly taken hold, with more than 9.5 million citations in Google. But there's still a huge amount of confusion about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom.

What it is, in fact, is a way of talking about a major shift in the way we use and define the web. It marks the passing of the 1st phase of the internet where everyone rushed out to get pictures and text out on the web with the dream of rapid wealth, and ushers in the age of online software applications that go well beyond the scope of simply displaying information and taking orders.

Web 2.0 is about participation, communication, rapid change and deployment of information.
In the Web 1.0 we displayed our information by hiring web developers to post information and multimedia content on our websites.

In Web 2.0 things are being done very differently. The web developer creates tools that allow us to post our own content 24 hours a day, easily, and without knowing anything about computer and web codes. We can author encyclopedia entries with Wikis and create daily personal messages or journals with Blogs. We can stream live video with incredible quality and little or no load time.

Any person in a company can update the content on the web that their department is responsible for without ever contacting a webmaster.

Web 2.0 easily merges internet and intranet.
Your website has a version always available to the world at large, and areas of the site accessible through logins that can display planning, events calendars, project progress and any other material desired that is not for public view. Multileveled tiers of access permission can be created.

Web 2.0 takes software above the level of a single device.
A movement has already begun to sell software as a subscription for use on a yearly basis, and have its code exist on the web server instead of your PC. This has several advantages. So long as you have the log in information, you can use your copy of the software from any machine in the world. You will no longer have to download things every time the software is updated. Though the long term price will probably remain about the same, the initial outlay will be smaller. And, as the companies will no longer need to create disks, packaging or pay for shipping of the items, they may indeed drop prices to the consumer. As an example you can do your taxes with the online version of Tax Cut this year for $9.95, with e-filing included. You install nothing on your machine.

Web 2.0 and RSS lets you subscribe to information instead of search for it.
This is being called as the largest change in the web in the last decade. When you go many pages on the web you see symbols that stand for “Web Feed”. The most popular definition of RSS is “Really Simple Syndication”

On pages that change frequently, like news, stock prices, or the new products page of a website, you can easily have a notice of the changes come to you within minutes of the updates. It seems like an email, but is not. It is a feed coming into a module in your web browser or e-mail client that only brings in information you have subscribed to and there is no email server involved. It is actually just linking you to the new information, and has the ability to display it in a window. An author can distribute notice of new content to the entire world in a few minutes, and there is never ANY spam.

One simple use of RSS that is becoming very popular is to receive notice from Google EVERY TIME anyone mentions you or your company on the web. If someone praises or slanders you, or your products online, you will know in time to thank them or contest the posting the day, or even within the hour that it occurs.

hough there is much more to say about the new way of using and viewing the web, these things seem certain.
It is all about getting and distributing more and better information faster and easier, and removing the time and expense of having the webmaster in the middle of every update.

Your custom Yahoo and Google start pages, Wikipedia and the big bloggers such as MySpace and Blogger.com all profited from getting there first. Now everything they do and offer can be incorporated into your website and used for your purposes.

IBM, Microsoft, Adobe and others are all devoting massive amounts of energy to become the ones to first present systems to manage information on the web in accordance with the advent of Web 2.0. They have seen the light and are racing toward it.

Designing a website for Web 2.0 may cost a little more in the beginning but quickly becomes far less expensive due to the lack of fees coming from the webmaster, and lost profit from displaying outdated information. Change is instant instead of slow, which can make the difference between success and failure in our rapidly changing business environment.

© Richard Dutton – 2007


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