Sunday, April 22, 2007

An Early Web 2.0 Definition

Although most people identify with Tim O'Reilly's "What Is Web 2.0Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software" as the foremost definition of Web 2.0, one article worth taking notice of is Paul Graham's "Web 2.0" in November 2005, just a month after O'Reilly's article came out. Shorter and simpler in scope than O'Reilly's biblical explanation, Graham's definition nonetheless offers an equally salient view of Web 2.0. Graham asserts that regardless of new technologies, there is common thread: Web 2.0 means using the web the way it's meant to be used. The "trends" we're seeing now are simply the inherent nature of the web emerging from under the broken models that got imposed on it during the Dot-com Bubble.
Here are Graham's main points about Web 2.0:

(1) Ajax - Short for "Javascript now works," Ajax programming allows web-based applications to work much more like desktop ones. A whole new generation of software is being written to take advantage of Ajax. There hasn't been such a wave of new applications since microcomputers first appeared. Even Microsoft sees it, but it's too late for them to do anything more than leak "internal" documents designed to give the impression they're on top of this new trend.

(2) Democracy - Even amateurs can surpass professionals, when they have the right kind of system to channel their efforts, whether it's the news or academic writing. Wikipedia may be the most famous. The most dramatic example of Web 2.0 democracy is not in the selection of ideas, but their production. The top links on are often links to individual people's sites rather than to magazine articles or news stories.

(3) Don't Maltreat Users - During the Bubble a lot of popular sites were quite high-handed with users. And not just in obvious ways, like making them register, or subjecting them to annoying ads. The very design of the average site in the late 90s was an abuse. Many of the most popular sites were loaded with obtrusive branding that made them slow to load and sent the user the message: this is our site, not yours. Because sites were offering free things, companies felt they needed to make users jump over hoops of fire to get them. Web 2.0 frowns upon that mentality.


Unknown said...

just commenting to say 'hello!'

send me an email to real email address:

would like to hear about your last term, job interview, etc.

Us Slaisers gotta stick together
send me news.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kiera,

Definitely! Thanks for sending me an update. I'll be emailing you soon, too. Hope all is well with your new job!