I've been reading up on Web 2.0-related material, and have noticed that although it appears to have somewhat disjointed viewpoints, they nonetheless point to a consensus. Over the next while, I will be analyzing these differences, and will come up with my own "theory" as to what Web 2.0 is (or is not). To start off, I'm going to compare two versions of the definitions of Web 2.0 from both ends of the chronological spectrum: an "old" entry written back in 2005 by Sharon Richardson and a "new" one by Michael Habib, a Master's thesis recently published in 2007 (in a later entry).
Here are Richardson's main points about Web 2.0.
(1) The Wisdom of the Crowds - Not only has it blurred the boundary between amateur and professional status, in a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do. As an example, the collective intelligence of the evacuees of the World Trace Center towers saved numerous lives in the face of disobeying authority which told them to stay put.
(2) Digital Natives - Because a generation (mostly the under 25's) have grown up surrounded by developing technologies, those fully at home in a digital environment aren't worried about information overload; rather, they crave it.
(3) Internet Economics - Small is the new big. Unlike the past when publishing was controlled by publishers, Web 2.0's read/write web has opened up markets to a far bigger range of supply and demand. The amateur who writes one book has access to the same shelf space as the professional author.
(4) "Wirelessness" - Digital natives are less attached to computers and are more interested in accessing information through mobile devices, when and where they need it. Hence, traditional client applications designed to run on a specific platform, will struggle if not disappear in the long run.
(5) Who Will Rule? - This will be the ultimate question (and prize). As Richardson argues, whoever rules "may not even exist yet."