Why is it Web 2.0? Since the first commercial websites (c. 1993) users were able to search & retrieve information, communicate using emails and chatrooms, securely purchase goods. The business and technical community were happily in control of developing content and applications. New sites & services launched everyday so there was an immediate wealth of information and that served user’s needs but something was missing - no, it was not pop-up ads. The missing ingredient was the user… you. Your wealth of experiences and opinons expressed as praise or criticism were the stuff of emails amongst friends or ephemeral chat sessions but there was no easy way of connecting with your trusted community online. Blogs, Wikis, Product & Travel Review Sites and Social Networks fill a need by allowing users to openly discover and communicate with existing communities and form new ones based on similar backgrounds, geography, education and professional interests.
Is Web 2.0 about cool new technology? Not really. It's about people & their need to easily engage with data and each other. The technology that supports the new breed of websites is a part of the Web 2.0 phenomenon and is interesting since it is based on open standards that world-wide communities of developers collaborated on to improve techniques and share their advancements. Even the cool new technology was a result of developer-led communities that wanted to improve the user experience and continued to share their innovations openly.
Web 2.0 describes an fundamental change in a user’s ability and expectation to conveniently control and publish their data and easily connect with their communities. Social networks allow you to share content with whomever you accept as a friend or community member. In effect you are now the publisher of your online persona and editor of your experience. The collaborative nature of content creation and the advancement of technology enabled users to plug into their community easily and that engagement is what makes Web 2.0 an improvement over the past.
Examples of Web 2.0. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow members to share their latest ideas and opinions via status updates, play games, share pictures and video publicly or privately. Consider Wikipedia.org where each day thousands of volunteers contribute to the quality of a shared knowledge repository. You may already be on Netflix where users share movie recommendations and ratings via Web 2.0 community tools. Modern sites now borrow and develop groundbreaking techniques to allow for a richer, faster and a more satisfying user experience.
Social Networking Privacy. As with any technology where you input personal information you need to be careful in disclosing data on your social network account. Here are some tips:
- follow secure password guidelines (use upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters)
- don’t share your full birthdates, home address or other sensitive data in profiles if avoidable
- only give access to trusted individuals; review your account privacy settings periodically to ensure new site tools & policies are acceptable to you
Interested in more about social networking? Common Craft has done an excellent job of explaining how online social networking succeeds: http://www.commoncraft.com/video-social-networking
Is there a Web 3.0? Maybe. Most likely it’s a world in which you can do all your current tasks from any device you can carry or access; possibly your devices will be aware of each other and anticipate your needs instead of just reacting to your requests. Offline activities like your food shopping, sleep patterns, medical records become monitorable and accessible so that a wealth of data can inform new applications and devices. The intriguing concepts are that as bandwidth increases and connections to our online world become ubiquitous using mobile platforms there is a blurring of the definition of being offline. With the growth of mobile access and devices that are aware of each other users may start to see their offline world is a virtual construction since you can always be online. Nothing is certain but the idea of Web 3.0 is worth discussing as it impacts all facets of modern life.
- This article was written for our nonprofit's intranet community to help our users understand why Web 2.0 matters and how to make sense of the changes that will come in the future.