Web 2.0 has been called everything from a pointless buzzword to the panacea of the modern Internet. I suspect that it really falls somewhere in between these two extremes. I think of web 2.0 as a convenient shorthand for the collaborative, community oriented web where collective intelligence is harnessed and content is created by the many rather than the few. Users participate in an open fashion using technology that facilitates participation for those who are not serious coders in contrast to the static web of a few years ago. Tim O'Reilly wrote the original definition of web 2.0 with much more detail than what I will provide here, and it is a great read for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of web 2.0.
The web 2.0 phenomenon is important because this collaborative, community approach brings changes to how users behave online and changes in expectations. We are moving more of our lives online:
email and IM are primary communication channels
the Internet is a primary source of news (if not THE source of news)
podcasting allows us to download news and entertainment to enjoy whenever and wherever we want
blogs are a way to share personal information or to discuss other important topics
social networking changes how we interact with our peers (MySpace, event organization, online dating)
google is now a verb according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary
Times are changing, and our choice is to change with the times or to follow the path of the dinosaurs toward extinction.
What does all of this mean?
We need to think about how we can get our users involved in the online experience through content contribution, comments, and other ways to harness the intelligence of our users.
In order to harness this collective intelligence, we have to realize that some of it will be critical, which is how learn what we need to improve.
Users will use our information in ways that were not intended (mashups, etc.), and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
We should provide forums and other places where users can interact with each other to form a stronger sense of community.
Web 2.0 tools like Ajax will improve the user experience, but it does not make sense to implement everything using Ajax technologies.
This first post to the blog is fairly broad, but you can expect future entries to be more focused on specific topics related to web 2.0.
Since this is the original post, you might want to learn a little more about Dawn M. Foster. Dawn currently works at Intel and has more than 10 years of experience in technology and software. Her primary area of expertise is open source software, and she is the author of the Open Culture Blog. She joined Intel in 2000 and has held various positions within the Software and Solutions group focused on enabling software development tools vendors and open source software.
Prior to joining Intel, Dawn worked for a Midwestern manufacturing company where she held positions ranging from Unix system administrator to market researcher for steel mills to e-Business principal. She holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Kent State University and a master's degree in business administration from Ashland University.