What Is 'Web 2.0'?

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Web 2.0 is more interactive.


'Web 2.0' is a technoculture term that was coined in 2004. The moniker was born at an O'Reilly Media conference and describes that the World Wide Web has now evolved into a provider of online software services. The original 'Web 1.0' of 1989 was just a massive collection of static electronic brochures. But since 2003, the Web has evolved into a provider of remote-access software. In short: Web 2.0 is the interactive Web.

Web 2.0 offers many interactive software choices, many of which have become household names. Here are some examples of Web 2.0:

  • free web-based email
  • online banking
  • project management tools
  • word processing
  • spreadsheeting
  • consignment and flea market trading (e.g. eBay)
  • price shopping for consumer goods
  • digital photo processing
  • news feeds
  • online radio
  • video hosting
  • geomatics and mapping services
  • car anti-theft tracking and GPS
  • home security surveillance
  • dating and relationships services
  • psychology and medical counseling
  • headhunting and executive job searching
  • sports team organizing
  • photo gallery services
  • music and file sharing
  • computer virus scanning
  • computer hardware testing
  • private investigator and confidential search services
  • wedding planning
  • logo design and graphic arts services

All of these services and much more are now available online through the web. Some of these services are free (powered by advertising), while others cost subscription fees ranging from 5 dollars per month to 5000 dollars per year.

How Web 1.0 Started

Originally, "Web 1.0" started in 1989 as a broadcast medium for graphical academic documents, and it quickly diverged from there. The web caught fire as a forum for free public broadcasting. Web readership grew exponentially during the Clinton administration, because starting in 1990, American news hyped the world wide web as "The Information Superhighway". Millions of Americans, and then the rest of the world, jumped on Web 1.0 as the modern way to receive information about the world. Web 1.0 continued its outrageous growth pattern until 2001, when, suddenly, the "Dot Com bubble burst". It burst because many internet startup companies could not live up to the multimillion-dollar expectations of profit. Thousands of people lost their jobs as investors discovered that web users were reluctant to move their consumer spending onto the internet. People just didn't trust the web enough to do big spending online, and many dot-com companies had to close down accordingly. The frantic web growth suddenly slowed. Web 1.0 just got itself a big black eye and was about to suffer an economic hangover from 2001 to 2004. The original frantic investor base left the digital world, and Web 1.0 settled into being a brochure-based broadcast medium that focused more on information than on software services.​

Web 2.0: the Dot-Com World Healed Itself

  • In 2004, the economic hangover ended, and the world wide web began a new upturn. As more sober investors and more mature technology architects saw other ways to approach web business, things changed. Web 2.0 began, with a new second objective that went beyond broadcasting static brochures. As Web 2.0, the worldwide web has also become a medium for online software services. Now more than just neat animations and company profiles, the web is also a universal channel where people can access remote software right through a web browser. Spreadsheeting, word processing, private investigator services, wedding planning, web-based email, project management, headhunting, movie and file sharing, graphic design services, car tracking and GPS, ... all of these online software choices can be found via a web browser. Indeed, while the web also remains a venue for brochures and general information about the world, it is now also a medium for tools and computer services. We are not sure what "Web 3.0" will be, but until then, get used to seeing more and more online services in this age of Web 2.0.