Rhodri Marsden: Cyberclinic

What does Web 2.0 mean for the internet?

What is this much-talked-about Web 2.0 actually supposed to be? And should I care?

Get a few dotcom executives into a boardroom with a flipchart, scrawl "Web 2.0" on it with a marker pen, sit back and watch them torment each other with outlandish definitions. The phrase was first uttered, unsurprisingly, during a brainstorming session at a new media company in the US. It was subsequently decided that the principles that characterised this new internet experience included "the perpetual Beta" and "leveraging the power of The Long Tail". It's not surprising that such nebulous marketing-speak provokes exasperation from many in the industry. "Every time I try to formulate a description of Web 2.0," writes developer Paul Waite, "I end up wanting to scream. It's certainly not a technology, nor a group of technologies. At best, it's a group of techniques." But an e-mail from Mark Anderson urges calm. "From a user's perspective," he says, "definitions really don't matter."

A more useful approach might be to consider the features that supposedly come under the Web 2.0 umbrella: the social interactivity of sites such as MySpace; the collaborative document, or wiki, as used by Wikipedia; RSS syndication - which keeps people updated with changes to your site - as shown on blogging services; the ability for readers leave feedback; the storing of your content online, as with photo site Flickr; and attractive design - as seen on Newsvine. In other words, where Web 1.0 might have had static pages that were viewed passively, Web 2.0 encourages participation. "The way we use the internet is changing radically," writes Ashley Lynch, "and someone has just decided to label it Web 2.0."

There's no denying that these innovations are reshaping the social landscape of the internet, but the rise of Web 2.0 as a buzzword has, inevitably, led to it being abused. If anyone asks if a website is "Web 2.0 enabled", you can be pretty sure they don't know what they're talking about, and what they probably mean is a) does it look pleasant, and b) can readers leave comments on it. Similarly, if you see a site that boasts being "Web 2.0 compliant", you can dismiss it with the contempt you'd reserve for someone who describes themselves as "sophisticated" on an internet dating profile. "The most amusing thing about Web 2.0," says Simon Ball, "is hearing futuristic ideas about what Web 3.0 or even Web 10.0 might involve." Those dotcom executives are surely salivating over the prospect of, say, their thoughts being transmitted directly to the company website - dispensing with the need for a boardroom, a flipchart or, indeed, a marker pen.

Diagnosis required

Next week's question comes from Kev Sanderson:

"Tesco is running adverts that hint at the notion of a free-to-use national Tesco telephone network for broadband users. Is it too good to be true? Should I take up their offer, or are other companies likely to follow suit in the near future?" Any comments, and new questions for the Cyberclinic, should be e-mailed to cyberclinic@independent.co.uk.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable