I’ve been having this conversation with people quite a bit lately. I’ve been on my high horse about "Web 2.0" technologies the past few months and trying to get people around me to start adopting them into their online habits. In this article I will attempt to explain what the term "Web 2.0" means to me, and why the users of technology should start paying attention. For a brief video introduction to "Web 2.0" theories, please see my previous post "The w0rd: Interesting videos describing Web 2.0 / collaboration / social networks".
When I use the term "Web2.0" I am using the term to describe not only software, but the way we interact with eachother through the software. Besides the enhanced and friendly user interfaces of some Web2.0 sites, this new generation of the web is all about sharing. We are just being able to communicate in virtually any medium anywhere in the world, in near real-time. This is a revolutionary advance that will have profound effects on how we work, play, and communicate across the globe. Web2.0 is all about making these technologies easier to use, easier to share, and and easier to find. Collaboration and transparency aren’t just buzz words, they are principals shaping a new society.
Many people are writing off Web2.0 as the "Second Internet Bubble" and unfortunately I believe that they are mainly correct. But just because some companies will go out of business and some venture capitalists loose a couple million, it’s no excuse to write off the techniques and theories that are driving this movement. The ideas of collaboration, transparency, and open source are just starting to emerge in the popular culture meme across the globe. Large multi-national corporations and Governments are beginning to embrace some of the social theories put forth from this new global cyberculture. Web2.0 gives more power to the person at the keyboard, instead of just reading the Web like a newspaper, YOU are the web. Your friends are the web. It has never been easier for the average person to share their knowledge and experiences with the world. Technology is worth understanding, because in the Web2.0, every voice can be heard.
I encourage everybody to jump into new technologies with gusto. Don’t be afraid of technology, it’s here to help you. Once you understand what this new software and philosophy is all about, you can begin to share it with others. As more people form loose social networks and begin to collaborate on a large scale, the better the "web"/"content"/"value"/"internet"/"experience"/"connection" will be in the future. There is a wealth of human knowledge that has yet to be shared. As we have more access knowledge we humans can begin to better understand everything.
From a pure new user standpoint I would suggest using the following websites to become accustomed to "Web2.0" tools and concepts. Don’t be afraid, they wont bite. If you don’t understand something, search google!:
- Netvibes ( personal start page )
- Del.icio.us ( social bookmark sharing )
- Picasa ( google’s photo sharing service )
- Gmail ( google’s free email service )
- Meebo ( web based instant messaging for aim, icq, msn, yahoo, gtalk, and meebo widgets )
- Craigslist ( localized public message board )
- Ziki ( online identity management, if you use more than 2 "web2.0" sites, you should use Ziki)
I’ve given you enough homework for today. Stay tuned for more information on living with technology in future installments. I’m not done with this topic by a long shot….