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Feb 25, 2019

Web 2.0: An Introduction

An Introduction To Web 2.0

What Is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0, or participative/participatory and social web, “refers to websites that emphasize user-generated content, ease of use, participatory culture, and interoperability for end users.” Web 2.0 is a relatively new term, having only come into popular use about twenty years ago, in 1999. It was first coined by Darcy DiNucci and then became popularized by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Doughtery at a conference in 2004. It’s important to note that Web 2.0 frameworks only deal with the design and use of websites, without placing technical demands on designers.

This article will not get into the history of Web 2.0, but instead discuss how Web 2.0 works and the roles/potential roles it can play in your business.

Characteristics Of Web 2.0

One of the main characteristics of a Web 2.0 site is that users are encouraged and invited to contribute content, instead of simply reading what’s already there. An example of a Web 2.0 site is Medium, a blogging platform where users contribute articles that they have written , as well as interact with content that other users have shared. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, are also great examples of Web 2.0.

However, this open contribution forum can lead to internet trolls who leave spam comments or leave nasty comments on the work contributed by others. When people say “don’t read the comments,” it’s often best to heed that advice. The comment sections, particularly on news forums like The New York Times or The Washington Post, can get especially nasty and the trolls are often out in full force. These trolls prevent important discussion from happening because people who have something to contribute to the conversation are often afraid to post for fear of being trolled or spammed.

Other key features of Web 2.0 include :

Folksonomy: a way to classify information, such as through tagging photos, websites, or links; tagging enables users to find information in an organized fashion

Rich user experience: dynamic, interactive content (for example, a user can click on an image of a plant to get more information about that plant — i.e. growth conditions, nutrient requirements, and more)

User participation: helps with the flow of information between the user and the owner of a certain website (for example, Wikipedia allows users to create new pages and edit existing pages to keep information up to date)

Software as a Service (Saas): sites classified as Web 2.0 use APIs for automated usage

Mass participation: we have nearly universal web access that leads to differentiation of concerns, from a traditional internet user to a wider variety of users

Concepts Of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 might sound complex and overwhelming, but it is easily broken down into three technologies : Rich internet application, web-oriented architecture, and social web. We’ll explain each of these in a little more depth later on in this section. Because of these technologies, Web 2.0 combines client and server side software to “provide users with information storage, creation, and dissemination capabilities. None of these things were available in Web 1.0.

First, rich internet application is defined as the user experience from desktop (or laptop) to browser, from both a graphics standpoint and an interactivity point of view.

Second, web-oriented architecture relates to the functionality of Web 2.0 applications to leverage a much richer set of applications. An example of web-oriented architecture is RSS feeds, which is a method of aggregating information, such as a blog or podcast feed.

Third, social web works to make the end user feel like they are a part of the community. This sense of community can be accomplished via social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram, where users interact with each other, or via the comment sections on news sites, where users can respond to articles that have been posted, creating discussion among all users of the site.

Web 2.0 has a few other features and techniques, known as SLATES, a term that was coined by Andrew McAfee. SLATES stands for Search, Links to other websites, Authoring, Tags, Extensions, and Signals. Search refers to finding content via keyword search, while Links to other websites refers to connecting information sources together via the Web model. Authoring refers to the collaborative nature of people bringing their work together, as well as comment systems that allow people to share their viewpoints. Tags refers to the categorization of information, via one or two word phrases, that aids in searching for specific keywords to find information. Extensions are used to make the Web an application platform and document server all in one. Examples of extensions include Adobe Reader, QuickTime, and Windows Media. Finally, Signals refers to the use of extension technology, such as an RSS feed.

Web As Platform

Using the web as a platform goes back to rich user experiences, which we talked about briefly earlier in this article. The best example of using the web as a platform is Google, for myriad reasons. The first reason is that Google can be accessed on multiple devices, whether you use a PC or a Mac. You can also access Google via a mobile device, such as a cell phone or tablet. Not only that, Google is a free and readily available service; all you need is a strong wifi connection to access it. Google is also a seamless product — its search engine and database work in conjunction with one another; this essentially means you can’t have one with the other.

The web uses applications, sometimes called applets, to make the experience of using the internet that much more enjoyable. Take Twitter, for example. On the surface, the concept is simple: you use the interface to send a message via a tweet to your followers, but an Application Programming Interface (API) allows you to go even deeper and use apps that have been created by third party developers, such as Twitterific, which allows users to tweet directly from their desktops rather than using the internet site.

If you’re interested in a list of Web 2.0 applications , check out this one right here. It isn’t a completely comprehensive list, but is instead intended to serve as a jumping off point and introduction to the vast world of Web 2.0 applications.

Web 2.0 And Collective Intelligence

Throughout this article, we’ve talked a lot about how users can use Web 2.0 to harness their collective intelligence . Nowhere is this more true than on a site like Wikipedia, which is essentially written and edited by its users. But more than that, when a new website is added to the internet, it is “bound into the structure of the web by other users discovering the content and linking to it.” Because of this linking and use of content, the web grows organically and becomes stronger with each website that is added.

Another strong example of collective intelligence is Amazon. Amazon sells much more than just books and they often sell products that can be found on other websites. Since the products are the same, the content about those products (i.e. product descriptions, product images, and more) is the same as what other vendors receive. What makes Amazon stand out from the crowd is that they’ve nailed the science of engagement. On Amazon, user activity creates better search results. When you visit Amazon at any given point during the day, you’ll see the most popular products on the home page; those decisions are made based on real-time sales and interactions from other users. This particular mechanism is called “flow” by Amazon insiders.

A Web 2.0 Wrap-Up

As with any web application or interface, Web 2.0 will eventually be a blip on the radar, but that won’t be happening anytime soon. Since Web 2.0 is just about 20 years since its invention (1999) and less than that (2004) from its popularization, we have a lot of room for growth in the Web 2.0 realm.

There are plenty of opportunities to use Web 2.0 to grow your business, including using it as a marketing tactic, which is another article for another time, but if you’re curious, you can check out this article in The Wall Street Journal .

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What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 are websites and applications that make use of user-generated content for end users. Web 2.0 is characterized by greater user interactivity and collaboration, more pervasive network connectivity and enhanced communication channels.

The term Web 2.0 was coined by information architecture consultant Darcy DiNucci in 1999 to differentiate the post- dot-com bubble . It was later popularized by O'Reilly Media during the Web 2.0 Conference in 2004.

Web 2.0 reflects the new age of the internet, which puts greater emphasis on social networking , cloud computing, higher participation levels and sharing information between internet users. While Web 2.0 doesn't signify a technical upgrade, it does reflect a shift in the way the internet is consumed. Social media sites, web apps and self-publishing platforms -- such as Facebook and WordPress -- gained popularity during this shift.

types of user-generated content

Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0

Web 2.0 emerged because of certain limitations in the original version of the web, commonly known as Web 1.0 . The following are the main differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0:

This article is part of

What is Web 3.0 (Web3)? Definition, guide and history

Web 2.0 examples

Since the advent of Web 2.0, the social aspects of internet communications have changed. Internet users can tag, share and tweet their opinions and engage in conversations.

The following are some popular examples of Web 2.0:

The collaborative elements of Web 2.0

Advantages and disadvantages of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 offers the following pros:

Web 2.0 offers the following cons:

Web 2.0 technologies

Most of the technologies used to deliver Web 2.0 are rich web technologies, such as Adobe Flash , Microsoft Silverlight and JavaScript , in addition to Ajax, RSS and Eclipse . Web 2.0 applications are often based on the decentralized download methodology that made BitTorrent so successful, in which each downloader of content is also a server, sharing the workload and making heavily demanded content more accessible than it would be in the centralized model, where demand can lead to overwhelmed servers and pages.

What is Manufacturing 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0?

The integration of Web 2.0 communication and collaboration applications into traditional manufacturing practices and processes has been dubbed Manufacturing 2.0 . Manufacturing 2.0 takes typical Web 2.0 apps and services and incorporates them into every stage of development and production. The use of these technologies and tools facilitates greater collaboration and sharing and referencing of information in a business, ideally leading to better-thought-out design and more efficient production.

Similarly, the inclusion of Web 2.0 technologies into an enterprise's business processes, intranet and extranet is sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0 . Most Enterprise 2.0 followers use a combination of blogs, social networking and social collaborative tools, as well as free, paid and homegrown technologies. The term Enterprise 2.0 was coined by former Harvard Business School Associate Professor Andrew McAfee in an MIT Sloan Management Review feature he named "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration."

Web 2.0 vs. Web 3.0

Web 2.0 is an advanced approach to the internet. However, certain setbacks, such as the security of personal data, can be found in its infrastructure. Web 3.0 , or Web3, offers a promising improvement over Web 2.0 through its semantic infrastructure, privacy controls, advanced metadata system and integration with innovative technologies, including advanced analytics and artificial intelligence ( AI ).

versions of the World Wide Web

The following features differentiate Web 2.0 from Web 3.0:

The internet has come a long way -- from static Web 1.0 and interactive Web 2.0 to the emerging Web 3.0. Learn how Web 3.0 can revolutionize the internet and what it can mean for businesses .

Continue Reading About Web 2.0

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What Is Web 2.0?

Understanding web 2.0, web 1.0 vs. web 2.0, components of web 2.0.

Web 2.0 vs. Web 3.0

The Bottom Line

What Is Web 2.0? Definition, Impact, and Examples

web 2 0 introduction

Web 2.0 describes the current state of the internet, which has more user-generated content and usability for end-users compared to its earlier incarnation, Web 1.0. In general, Web 2.0 refers to the 21st-century Internet applications that have transformed the digital era in the aftermath of the dotcom bubble .

Key Takeaways

The term Web 2.0 first came into use in 1999 as the Internet pivoted toward a system that actively engaged the user. Users were encouraged to provide content, rather than just viewing it. The social aspect of the Internet has been particularly transformed; in general, social media allows users to engage and interact with one another by sharing thoughts, perspectives, and opinions. Users can tag, share, tweet, and like. 

Web 2.0 does not refer to any specific technical upgrades to the internet. It simply refers to a shift in how the internet is used in the 21st century. In the new age, there is a higher level of information sharing and interconnectedness among participants. This new version allows users to actively participate in the experience rather than just acting as passive viewers who take in information. 

Because of Web 2.0, people could now able to publish articles and comments, and it became possible to create user accounts on different sites, therefore increasing participation. Web 2.0 also gave rise to web apps, self-publishing platforms like WordPress , as well as social media sites. Examples of Web 2.0 sites include Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs, which all have transformed the way the same information is shared and delivered.

History of Web 2.0

In a 1999 article called Fragmented Future, Darcy DiNucci coined the phrase "Web 2.0". In the article, DiNucci mentions that the "first glimmerings" of this new stage of the web were beginning to appear. In Fragmented Future, DiNucci describes Web 2.0 as a "transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens."

The phrase become popularized after a 2004 conference held by O'Reilly Media and MediaLive International. Tim O'Reilly, Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of the media company, is credited with the streamlining of the process, as he hosted various interviews and Web 2.0 conferences to explore the early business models for web content.

The interworking of Web 2.0 has been continually evolving over the years. Instead of a single instance of Web 2.0 having been created, it's definition and capabilities continue to change. For example, Justin Hall is credited as being one of the first bloggers, though his personal blog dates back to 1994.

Web 1.0 is used to describe the first stage of the Internet. At this point, there were few content creators; most of those using the Internet were consumers. Static pages were more common than dynamic HTML , which incorporates interactive and animated websites with specific coding or language.

Content in this stage came from a server’s filesystem rather than a database management system. Users were able to sign online guestbooks, and HTML forms were sent via email. Examples of Internet sites that are classified as Web 1.0 are Britannica Online, personal websites, and In general, these websites are static and have limited functionality and flexibility.

Static information (more difficult to change)

More controlled user input

Promoted individual contribution; channels were less dynamic

Consider much more informative and data-driven

Dynamic information (always changing)

Less control over user input

Promotes greater collaboration, as channels are more dynamic and flexible

Considered much more social and interative-driven

There is no single, universally-accepted definition for Web 2.0. Instead, it's best described as a series of components that, when put together, create an online environment of interactivity and greater capacity compared to the original version of the web. Here are the more prominent components of Web 2.0.

Wikis are often information repositories that collect input from various users. Users may edit, update, and change the information within a web page, meaning there is often no singular owner of the page of the information within. As opposed to users simply absorbing information given to them, wiki-based sites such as Wikipedia are successful when users contribute information into the site.

Software Applications

The early days of the web relied upon local software being installed on premise. With Web 2.0, applications gained a greater opportunity to be housed off-site, downloaded over the web, or even offered as a service via web applications and cloud computing. This has shepherded in a new type of business model where companies can sell software applications on a monthly subscription basis.

Social Networking

Often one of the aspects most thought of when discussing Web 2.0. social networking is similar to wikis in that individuals are empowered to post information to the web. Whereas wikis are informational and often require verification, social networking has looser constraints on what can be posted. In addition, users have greater capabilities to interact and connect with other social networking users.

General User-Generated Content

In addition to social media posts, users can more easily post artwork, images, audio, video, or other user-generated media. This information shared online for purchase or may be freely distributed. This has led to greater distribution of content creator crediting (though creators are at greater risk for their content being stolen by others).


Though many may think of Web 2.0 as allowing for individual contribution, Web 2.0 brought about great capabilities regarding crowdsourced, crowdfunded , and crowd-tested content. Web 2.0 let individuals collectively share resources to meet a common goal, whether that goal be knowledge-based or financial.

There is no single universally-accepted definition for Web 2.0 (or Web 3.0). Because of its expansive nature, it's often hard to confine the boundaries of Web 2.0 into a single simple definition.

Applications of Web 2.0

The components above are directly related to the applications of Web 2.0. Those components allowed for new types of software, platforms, or applications that are still used today.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Web 2.0

Pros of web 2.0.

The development of technology has allowed users to share their thoughts and opinions with others, creating new ways of organizing and connecting with other people. One of the largest advantages of Web 2.0 is improved communication through web applications that enhances interactivity, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

This is most evidence through social networking, where individuals armed with a Web 2.0 connection can publish content, share ideas, extract information, and subscribe to various informational feeds. This has brought about major strides in marketing optimization as more strategic, targeted marketing approaches are now possible.

Web 2.0 also bring about a certain level of equity. Most individuals have an equal chance of posting their views and comments, and each individual may build a network of contacts. Because information may be transmit more quickly under Web 2.0 compared to prior methods of information sharing, the latest updates and news may be available to more people.

Cons of Web 2.0

Unfortunately, there are a lot of disadvantages to the Internet acting more like an open forum. Through the expansion of social media, we have seen an increase in online stalking, doxing , cyberbullying, identity theft , and other online crimes. There is also the threat of misinformation spreading among users, whether that's through open-source information-sharing sites or on social media. 

Individuals may blame Web 2.0 for misinformation, information overload, or the unreliability of what people read. As almost anyone can post anything via various blogs, social media, or out Web 2.0 outlets, there is an increased risk of confusion on what is real and what sources may be deemed as reliable.

As a result, Web 2.0 brings about higher stakes regarding communication. It's more likely to have fake accounts, spammers, forgers, or hackers that attempt to steal information, imitate personas, or trick unsuspecting Web 2.0 users into following their agenda. As Web 2.0 doesn't always and can't verify information, there is a heightened risk for bad actors to take advantage of opportunities.

The world is already shifting into the next iteration of the web (appropriately dubbed "Web 3.0"). Though both rely on many similar technologies, they use the available capabilities to solve problems differently.

One strong example of Web 3.0 relates to currency. Under Web 2.0, users could input fiat currency information such as bank account information or credit card data. This information could be processed by the receiver to allow for transactions. Web 3.0 strives to approach the transaction process using similar but different processes. With the introduction of Bitcoin, Ethereum , and other cryptocurrencies, the same problem can be solved in a theoretically more efficient way under Web 3.0.

Web 3.0 is more heavily rooted in increasing the trust between users. More often, applications rely on decentralization, letting data be exchanged in several locations simultaneously. Web 3.0 is also more likely to incorporate artificial intelligence or machine learning applications.

Focuses on reading and writing content

May be more susceptible to less-secure technology

May use more antiquated, simpler processing techniques

Primarily aims to connect people

Focused on creating content

Often has more robust cybersecurity measures

May incorporate more advanced concepts such as AI or machine learning

Primarily aims to connect data or information

What Does Web 2.0 Mean?

Web 2.0 describes how the initial version of the web has advanced into a more robust, capable system. After the initial breakthrough of the initial web capabilities, greater technologies were developed to allow users to more freely interact and contribute to what resides on the web. The ability for web users to be greater connected to other web users is at the core of Web 2.0.

What Are Examples of Web 2.0 Applications?

The most commonly cited examples of Web 2.0 applications include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tiktok. These sites allow users to interact with web pages instead of simply viewing them. These types of websites extend to sites like Wikipedia, where a broad range of users can help form the information that is shared and distributed on the web.

Is Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 the Same?

Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 use many of the same technologies (AJAX, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3). Web 3.0 is more likely to leverage even more modern technologies or principles in an attempt to connect the information to drive even greater value.

In the early days of web browsing, users would often navigate to simple webpages filled with information and limited-to-no ability to interact with the page. Today, the web has advanced and allows for users to connect with others, contribute information, and have greater flexibility in how the web is being used. Though Web 2.0 is already shaping the way for Web 3.0, many of the fundamental pieces of Web 2.0 are still used today.

Web Design Museum. " Web 2.0 ."

Darcy DiNucci. " Fragmented Future ."

O'Reilly. " Web 2.0 and the Emergent Internet Operating System ."

University of Notre Dame of Maryland. " History of Blogging ."

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What is Web 2.0?

What is web 2.0 technology.

When it comes to defining web 2.0. the term means such internet applications which allow sharing and collaboration opportunities to people and help them to express themselves online.

“Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as a platform, and any attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”– Tim O’ Reilly.

It’s a simply improved version of the first worldwide web, characterized specifically by the change from static to dynamic or user-generated content and also the growth of social media. 

The concept behind Web 2.0 refers to rich web applications, web-oriented architecture, and social web. It refer to changes in the ways web pages are designed and used by the users, without any change in any technical specifications.

What is Web 2.0

Darcy DiNucci- an information architecture consultant, coined the term Web 2.0 in her article “Fragmented Future”. The term was popularized by Tim O’Reilly and MediaLive International in 2004.

What are the examples of Web 2.0 applications?

Web 2.0 examples include hosted services (Google Maps),Web applications ( Google Docs, Flickr), Video sharing sites (YouTube), wikis (MediaWiki), blogs (WordPress), social networking (Facebook), folksonomies (Delicious), Microblogging (Twitter), podcasting (Podcast Alley) & content hosting services and many more.

Also Read: What is Digital Information Security in Healthcare Act (DISHA) in India?

So the major difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0 is that web 2.0 websites enable users to create, share, collaborate and communicate their work with others, without any need of any web design or publishing skills. These capabilities were not present in Web 1.o environment.

Now-a-days, the way web users are getting information has drastically changed. Today, users use content they are specifically interested in, often using Web 2.0 tools.

The difference shown below between some examples of Web 1.0 and 2.0 justifies why it’s time to move to the new version.

Advantages of Web 2.0:

Web 2.0 tools and their features:

Web2.0 tools & feature

Major features of Web 2.0 allow users to collectively classify and find dynamic information that flows two ways between site owner and site user by means of evaluation, comments, and reviews.

Also Read: What is an SSL Certificate and why is it a must-have for every website?

Site users can add content for others to see. Web 2.0 sites provide APIs to allow automated usage by an app or mashup like it provides location metadata that can be processed by a simple browser tool.

Web 2.0

Use and impact of  Web 2.0:

Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and JavaScript are used as rich web technologies in delivering web 2.0 in addition to Ajax, RSS and Eclipse.

Its applications are based on the reorganized download methodology that made BitTorrent so fruitful that each downloader of content is also a server, sharing the workload and making the content more accessible.

Also Read: Top 10 free website speed test tools to get performance insights

It can be a powerful lure for an enterprise; with interactivity promising to fetch more employees into daily contact at a lower cost. The use of web 2.0 technologies and tools aids greater participation in projects and idea-sharing, thus ideally leading to better thought out design and more efficient production, strengthening bonds with customers and improving communications with partners.

What is the future – Web 2.0 or Web 3.0?

The business forecasters are all claiming that Web 2.0 is an intermediate phase between the World Wide Web’s existence and a more established phase they’re calling Web 3.0.

What is “Web 3.0”? Has anyone even been using “Web 3.0” to describe anything?

Web 3.o is referred to as an intelligent web or third generation of internet-based services.  The term was coined by John Markoff in 2006. He explained “There is no easy consensus about how to define what is meant by Web 3.0, but it is generally seen as a reference to the semantic Web.

While it is not that much more precise a phrase, the semantic Web refers to technology to make using the Internet better by understanding the meaning of what people are doing, not just the way pages link to each other.”

Web 3.0 is supposed to be more connected and intelligent with major emerging technology trends like semantic web, data mining, machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence and other such technologies focused on information which is machine facilitated.

So Web 3.0 is the idea of such a web that will store information in such a way that computers and other devices will understand on their own.FB app and Google Voice search, Apple’s Siri are some of the examples of web 3.o usage.

The web as a whole can be designed more intelligently around serving a user’s wants or needs. The developers and authors, singly or in collaboration, can use self-descriptions or similar techniques so that the information provided by the new context-aware program is relevant to the user.

What are the major differences between Web 1.O, Web 2.O, and Web 3.O?

web 2 0 introduction

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Privacy Overview

web 2 0 introduction

Web 2.0 Explained: Everything You Need To Know

Updated: November 30, 2022 by Heather Hall

web 2 0 introduction

What Is Web 2.0? A Complete Explanation

The earliest websites were part of what is known as the “read-only web,” or Web 1.0 . While they offered plenty of information and were accessible to users across the world, these pages had little or no functionality, flexibility, or user-generated content.

The name “Web 2.0” seems to indicate an updated version of the current World Wide Web, which is known as Web 1.0. It’s more accurate to think of Web 2.0 as a shift in thinking and focus on web design. Instead of static HTML pages with little or no interaction between users, Web 2.0 represents a shift to interactive functionality and compatibility through some of the following features:

Web 2.0: An Exact Definition

Web 2.0 is the second generation of the World Wide Web. It focuses on the web as a platform and offers more opportunities for collaboration, functionality, various applications, and user-generated content. It is the World Wide Web as it is used today.

largest Internet companies


How Does Web 2.0 Work?

Another way to think of this reshaping of the World Wide Web is called the “read/write” web. Since this reframing of the internet, web users have been able to communicate in real time with servers, edit web pages, post comments, and communicate with other users. Here are just a few categories to help you understand this major shift in the way the web is used.

Thanks to hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and other innovations, Web 2.0 acts as a social web. Users can add comments, like pages, submit reviews, and create social media accounts for increased levels of interaction. All of this user-generated content dramatically increases opportunities for communication across all users.

Marketing Capabilities

Web 2.0 allows for automated processes and improved productivity in all forms of communication, including marketing technology. This allowed for blogs, Google Ads, and other forms of marketing to become more present and effective at connecting with audiences.

Web-Delivered Services

Another major shift from Web 1.0 was the introduction of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These allow applications to talk to each other, introducing the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This promoted greater interactivity between web development companies, applications, and users.

How Do You Create Web 2.0?

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While Web 2.0 is more of a change in thinking rather than a truly updated version of the World Wide Web, there are a few key web technologies that introduced this massive shift in the way users viewed and interacted with web pages. Here are just a few examples of this technology and its improved compatibility:

Where Did Web 2.0 Originate From?

When Time Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, it was primarily used for static HTML pages. This version of the web, known now as Web 1.0, was about as interactive as pages in a book. This continued until the dot-com boom and then the crash that occurred roughly between 1997 and 2001.

In 2004, not long after the burst of the dot-com bubble, the concept of Web 2.0 was born. The term is believed to have been first used in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci but grew significantly in popularity at the Web 2.0 Conference held by Dale Dougherty and Tim O-Reily in 2004.

What Are the Applications of Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 has taken over a large portion of all internet usage. The popularity of collaboration and user-generated content has left the static HTML pages of Web 1.0 feeling dated and obsolete. Here are just a few common ways that these changes in thinking about the internet are applied today.

Software as a Service

Many leading software applications have transitioned to a SaaS model with compatibility across various devices. From professional software for your business like Salesforce, Microsoft, and Adobe Creative Cloud to Netflix, Zoom , and Spotify , SaaS is a common model that offers web-based software applications on demand for a monthly subscription.

Personal, professional, and corporate blogs rely on the interactive and user-generated features of Web 2.0. Bloggers can not only easily create new web pages to share up-to-date information but users can like, share, and comment on posts to increase engagement for your business or personal use.

Social Media Networks

The pinnacle of interactivity and user-generated content implementation, social media networks allow every user to easily share content, chat with other users, and respond to new content in real-time. Popular networks such as Twitter , Instagram, Facebook , and TikTok, are some of the most highly visited sites on the web.

Video and Image Sharing Sites

YouTube , TikTok, Google Photos, Flickr, and other websites highlight the ease of sharing videos and images with Web 2.0. These sites increase multimedia interaction between users to change the way the internet is used to communicate.

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Examples of Web 2.0 in the Real World

The popularity of Web 2.0 means that much of what is considered the internet is a Web 2.0 innovation. Explore these examples of real-world applications that leverage the change in focus brought about by Web 2.0.

The search engine, along with Google Ads, relies heavily on user interaction. The search engine process continues to be refined, globally and personally, as you search for websites and interact with web pages. Google also offers a number of web-based applications for your business or personal use in the Google Suite.

This popular site offers user-generated encyclopedia entries. This site allows ongoing editing and refining of definitions, histories, and examples of all types of knowledge. It also highlights one of the dangers of the implementation of Web 2.0, as the content on Wikipedia is open to vandalism and intentionally incorrect entries.

Along with Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels, Facebook highlights the exponential user interaction available through the social web. All of those instant messages, shares, likes, comments, and friend requests were virtually unthinkable during the days of Web 1.0.

Web 2.0 Explained: Everything You Need To Know FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is the modern, interactive version of the internet. It describes the leap from static HTML pages in the 1990s to the dynamic web applications and user-generated content of the internet of today.

What makes Web 2.0 different from other versions?

Web 2.0 focuses on user-generated content, the web as a platform, and software as a service (SaaS) advancements. Compared to Web 1.0, this version of the web is interactive, flexible, and social.

How does Web 2.0 work?

Web 2.0 isn’t really a new version of the World Wide Web. It does, however, mark a new way of engaging with servers and users. It achieves this through user-generated content, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and other advancements.

What is the difference between Web 2.0 and social media?

Social media sites highlight some of the key features of Web 2.0, such as an increased focus on user-generated content and interactivity. Web 2.0 also covers blogs, Software as a Service (SaaS), Really Simple Syndication (RSS), and other interactive technologies.

What is the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0?

The leap between Web 1.0 and 2.0 was all about interactivity and flexibility. Static HTML pages were updated with social media sites, blogs, RSS feeds, and SaaS applications.

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What is Web 2.0?

The internet revolution that placed humans into the internet.

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In This Article

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Web 2.0 Definition

Web 2.0 Is an Interactive Internet

Putting it all together.

Web 2.0 is a term describing the internet that's been used since the early 2000s.

Very simply, Web 2.0 is the second stage of internet development that involves the evolution from basic, static web pages to increasingly dynamic pages with user-generated content. It also includes the growth of social media as an important type of internet communication.

Why It's Hard to Define Web 2.0

It's worth pointing out first that there's no single clear definition of Web 2.0. Like many technological concepts that have seemingly spring out of nowhere, Web 2.0 is one that has basically taken on a life of its own.

Some people consider the Web 2.0 era to be the time that a fundamental shift occurred in how we used the internet. It could be described as the move toward a more social, collaborative, interactive and responsive web.

The Web 2.0 era served as a marker of change in the philosophy of web companies and web developers. Even more than that, Web 2.0 was a change in the philosophy of a web-savvy society as a whole.

Both the change in how society functions, as well as the internet as an existing form of technology, are part of Web 2.0. In the early days of the web, we used it as a tool.

Web 2.0 marked an era where we weren't just using the internet as a tool anymore—we were becoming a part of it. You could say that Web 2.0 involved the process of putting "us" into the web.

Web 2.0 Is a Social Web—Not a Static Web

The idea of human society merging with a network of computers might sound like the bad plot out of a science fiction novel, but it's a fair description of what has happened to our society over the past decade and a half or so.

Not only have we increased our usage of the internet—from how much time we spend on it at home, to how we now carry around a version of it in our pocket—but we've also changed the way we interact with it.

This has led us to a social web where we aren't just consuming information from websites. Now, we're creating it. We're all connected with other people who can put anything they want online that they want to share.

We do this in the form of social media platforms like blogs (Tumblr, WordPress), social networks ( Facebook and Instagram ), social news sites (Digg and Reddit), and wikis (Wikipedia). The common theme of each of these websites is human interaction.

On blogs, we post comments. On social networks , we make friends. On social news , we vote for articles. And, on wikis, we share information.

The development of Web 2.0 helped people connect with other people more effectively.

These ideas of bringing the power of people directly into the internet wouldn't be possible without the technology to support it. For the collective knowledge of people to be harnessed, websites must be easy enough to use that they don't stand in the way of people using the internet to share their knowledge.

So, while Web 2.0 is about creating a social web, it is also about creating a more interactive and responsive web. It is in this way that methodologies such as AJAX became central to the idea of Web 2.0.

AJAX, which stands for Asynchronous Javascript And XML, allowed websites to communicate with the browser behind the scenes and without human interaction. This meant you didn't have to click on something for the web page to do something.

It sounds simple, but it's not something that was possible in the early days of the web. And what it meant was that websites could be more responsive more like desktop applications—so that they were easier to use.

This allowed websites to begin harnessing the collective power of people because the more difficult a website is to use, the less people that are willing to use it. So, to truly harness that collective power, websites had to be designed as simple as possible so as not to get in the way of people sharing information.

The ideas that have helped define the Web 2.0 era have taken people and put them on the web. A much more social web has transformed the way we think and the way we do business.

The idea of sharing information is being valued as much as the idea of proprietary information. Open source, which has been around for decades, is becoming a significant factor. And the web link is becoming a form of currency.

What About Web 3.0? Are We Even There Yet?

It's been a while since the Web 2.0 era began, and now that virtually all of us have grown completely accustomed to a very social and interactive web, questions of whether or not we've completely shifted to Web3 have been arising for years now.

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Surfing into the Future: An Introduction to Web 2.0

The World Wide Web created a revolution in how people shop, acquire information, and interact with others. Now the web is undergoing a revolution of its own, and it is called Web 2.0.

So what is Web 2.0? First, let me address what it is not. It is not a separate, "all-new" version of the World Wide Web; rather, it is just a new way of using the web that lets users collaborate and share information online. The term Web 2.0 was coined to sound like a new version of the web, much like the number given to a new version of software that indicates which version it is. Web 2.0 web sites expect the user to contribute. It may be best to think of Web 2.0 web sites more like applications than just web sites. Web 2.0 sites allow you to do something such as publish words and pictures or keep a group calendar.

What types of sites are considered Web 2.0, and what are they used for? Probably the most well-known type of Web 2.0 site is the social networking site, such as MySpace and Facebook. These sites allow users to put up their own content, share content with other sites, and browse the content of fellow members. They also have the facility for you to send messages to fellow members and even post your content on someone else's site if you have been given permission to do so by the other user. While these sites initially gained popularity with teenagers and college students as a way to keep in touch with friends and meet new people, many have become important ways for individuals and groups to communicate. For example, many secondary and postsecondary school clubs create MySpace pages where information regarding activities and upcoming events is posted. In many cases, these pages are the only places where this information is made available to members. If students who are visually impaired do not have reliable access to the pages, they are essentially cut out of the information loop for the organizations.

In addition to clubs, many businesses and political organizations use social networking sites for marketing and communication. For example, the Carroll Center for the Blind, in Newton, Massachusetts, thought that it needed to have a MySpace page as a way to get the word out about the center. Webmaster Mark Sadecki said that the center added pages on both MySpace and Facebook "not to direct people from our site to theirs (the content on MySpace is much more easily accessed on our home page), but to market to existing and future users of these sites. If they are using the sites, we assume that they are not having accessibility issues with them." Even though Sadecki experienced issues of accessibility on both sites, he said it is an important part of the center's marketing effort to have at least a basic page on both sites.

Another popular Web 2.0 application is project management. Project management sites provide individuals and organizations with a way to manage projects within their organizations. For example, the popular project management site Basecamp allows users to manage multiple projects at once, providing to-do lists, message centers, calendars, and reminders along the way. Multiple users can access and share information via an electronic whiteboard. This type of software has become common in the business world and is used to help companies manage all the details of large projects. Project management software used to come in a box, but now Web 2.0 versions like Basecamp allow people to use the software as a web-based tool.

Blogging is another popular Web 2.0 application. Short for web log, a blog is essentially a compilation of diary entries that are arranged in reverse date order. Blogs can range from the personal to political. They can include pictures, MP3 files, videos, and the like, which usually make accessibility difficult.

Another example of a Web 2.0 application is wikis, web sites that allow users to add and edit information. A wiki usually provides information about multiple topics, and users can update, edit, and add to the information that is provided. Like blogs, accessibility issues in wikis are usually tied to the addition of media.

Sounds Great, So What Is the Problem?

Before you even get to whether the content of these sites is accessible, you need to get past the inaccessible elements of the sign-up process. All the Web 2.0 sites that were reviewed for this article require users to sign up, and all use a method called CAPTCHA (completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart) to verify that you are a human, not a computer. A CAPTCHA is a small graphic that contains text, numbers, or both. You are asked to type the characters that are displayed into a text field. CAPTCHAs are basically a Web 1.0 technology that is used to prevent automated systems, such as those used by spammers, from signing up for services.

Unfortunately, because they are graphic, CAPTCHAs are completely inaccessible. Some CAPTCHAs include an audio alternative, but because of voice-recognition technology, the quality of the audio is poor on purpose. Anyone with less-than-perfect hearing or with auditory-processing problems would find them difficult to use. (For an example of an audio CAPTCHA, visit and follow the link for What Is ReCAPTCHA.) The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommends that CAPTCHAs not be used at all because they are inherently inaccessible, but that if you use them, you should use an audio alternative. According to W3C, CAPTCHAs are not so effective in preventing automated sign-up, and their limited value is not worth the loss of accessibility. Also, audio alternatives are not accessible to braille-only users such as people who are deaf-blind. Alternatives to CAPTCHAs would include providing the user with a question that requires a human to answer or check boxes that need to be unchecked.

Most of the Web 2.0 sites have not gotten the message. Both YouTube and MySpace do not bother to use audio alternatives. In fact, both provide a frustrating "If You Can't Read This" link next to the CAPTCHA, which, at first, gives you hope that an audio prompt will follow, but alas, all the link does is refresh the screen with a different CAPTCHA. This lack of audio is inexcusable, since ready-made CAPTCHAs that include audio are freely available, most notably from Carnegie Mellon University's CAPTCHA project ( ).

Once you manage to sign up, you will find a variety of obstacles to participation. First, because much of the content found on Web 2.0 sites is user generated, little attention is paid to making the content accessible. The average user just does not know anything about the need for accessibility or how to go about making the content more accessible. This situation can be aggravated by the fact that the applications that end-users use to put content on the web site typically do not provide any way to make their content more accessible. For example, MySpace is a social networking site where individuals and organizations can put up content on their personal MySpace pages. Content can include photographs and videos. Even if users are aware of accessibility issues and want to provide accessible content to visitors to their pages, there is no facility to do even something as simple as providing alt-text with photographs.

Web sites like YouTube that focus on videos are equally inaccessible to use. Even if users decided to create a description for their videos that could be played simultaneously, no facility to upload them or play them is built into the web site.

New Technology

Another big issue with Web 2.0 is the introduction of new technology that is intended to make these sites more dynamic. In a way, these sites are becoming more like television, where content is updated on the screen without the user having to do anything. Unfortunately, screen readers do not always notice the new content, or, worse, the new content can cause the screen reader to begin reading the page again from the top, basically hijacking control of the page away from the user.

As a group, these technologies are referred to as rich internet applications (RIAs). Unfortunately, RIAs provide web designers with a multitude of new options for web design, most of which are not accessible.

Here We Go Again ...

When computers moved from DOS to Windows, screen readers had to come up with a whole new way to read the screen. Most screen readers began to use an off-screen model and relied on interpreting objects to provide accurate information about which part of the screen had focus and what it said. The off-screen model's functionality was enhanced when the companies that produced the operating systems provided additional information and consistency through the use of accessible application programming interfaces (APIs), the most well known of which was Microsoft Active Accessibility. APIs worked fairly well until the introduction of the World Wide Web and the proliferation of HTML in both web pages and documents. Manufacturers of screen readers had to scramble once again to find a way to read the underlying HTML efficiently.

As the web exploded in popularity, the number of authors of web sites expanded with it. Since HTML was simply a markup language, there were no real rules to govern its use, thus very little consistency in how web pages were structured. This situation created an accessibility problem for users of screen readers because there was no reliable way to tell something as simple as whether a table was really a table or was just being used to format the page. The facility existed to provide alternative descriptions of pictures, but not everyone knew how to use them or even why they might want to use them.

Enter W3C. W3C is an international consortium, created by one of the inventors of the World Wide Web, as a way to "lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth of the web" ( ). In 1997, W3C created a Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) whose goal was to create standards for HTML authoring that created fully accessible web sites. The WAI provided the ground rules for accessible HTML, and a host of other web sites and applications used these guidelines to help web authors create accessible sites.

Unfortunately, with the advent of the new RIAs, we are back at the beginning of the process of making the web accessible once again. Much of the technology behind RIA is new, and no standards yet exist for web authors to make their sites accessible. According to W3C's "Roadmap for Accessible Rich Internet Applications," much of the accessibility architecture that is needed to create standards does not yet even exist. The little that does exist is so new that it will not work in all web browsers.

RIA accessibility is very much a work in progress, but one thing is clear. It will be extremely difficult to provide any kind of backward compatibility for RIA web sites. Old versions of screen readers simply will not work with the new technology, but neither will old versions of web browsers.

According to Eric Damery, vice president of software product management for Freedom Scientific, the company is actively working to make changes in future versions of JAWS and MAGic that will support accessible rich internet applications (ARIA), but these changes and the full ARIA standards are 9 to 12 months away and will be compatible only with Firefox, not Internet Explorer. Damery was hopeful that the problem would eventually be solved. When asked to compare this new technical struggle with the early battles to make the Internet accessible, he said that the assistive technology community is more involved with software developers now, so these issues are being addressed much earlier in the process.

The outlook is similar at GW Micro. According to Doug Geoffray, GW Micro's vice president of development, Window-Eyes added some Web 2.0 accessibility for things like tree views and buttons in the last version when it added Firefox compatibility. Geoffray said that IBM has worked hard to make sure that Firefox has all the support necessary for ARIA, but Microsoft does not have the same commitment for Internet Explorer. He also noted that the ARIA standards are "much cleaner than the WAI standards and right to the point," but he still believes that there is a "bumpy road" ahead for computer users who are visually impaired until Web 2.0 code is accessible and developers begin to use the more accessible code.

Geoffray was not willing to predict when Window-Eyes will make the changes that are necessary to take full advantage of ARIA, but he said that the company is actively pursuing these technologies and will pay greater attention to Web 2.0 compatibility after the release of the next version of Window-Eyes, which is due to come out this spring.

In the meantime, to be accessible, Web 2.0 sites will need to provide an alternative to RIA content, much like the "text-only" versions of web sites that were popular in the early days of the World Wide Web.

A big hurdle for accessibility is a technology called Ajax (the acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). Ajax is intended to make web pages more dynamic by providing the ability to refresh parts of a web page without having to refresh the entire page. Essentially, new content can come onto the page without the user having to do anything. Several problems are presented by Ajax, however.

First, since Ajax is a form of JavaScript, anyone who turns JavaScript off or is still using technology that is not able to process JavaScript has no access to the information. Second, even if your screen reader will read the information, it will not tell you that the page has updated, so you will not even know that something has changed. This second problem is being addressed by the new ARIA standards and should be implemented by the end of 2008, but it will still depend on web developers understanding and implementing the new standards and on users upgrading to the newest screen readers.

Fortunately, products, such as the Dojo Toolkit ( ), are available that build ARIA standards into their tools for web developers, making it easier for developers to create accessible Web 2.0 pages. Like the ARIA standards, the Dojo Toolkit is a work in progress, but its tools are impressive and its definition and explanation of what makes a Web 2.0 site accessible are well written and fairly easy to understand.

In the meantime, while the standards are being finalized and the screen readers are catching up, here are some recommendations for what Web 2.0 sites can do to maximize accessibility. First, sites should use Ajax only as a layer on top of existing web sites, so that users can use the page, even if they cannot run JavaScript or recognize when updates have occurred. Second, sites should inform users, at the top of a form, if the form requires JavaScript to be submitted, and provide a link to a version of the form that does not require JavaScript. Finally, keyboard alternatives must be provided for any actions that require a mouse.

In the end, accessibility on the web requires a commitment to creating accessible web pages that developers still do not seem to have. Most of the Web 2.0 sites have accessibility issues that are left over from Web 1.0 and require attention only to available standards to fix. For example, many of these sites do not even provide something as simple as the ability to add Alt-text to your photographs, all of them use CAPTCHAs for security, and many use old-fashioned rollover menus that were never accessible. So while the new technology has presented new technological hurdles, the biggest hurdle still appears to be the lack of attention to accessibility. For every Web 2.0 web site I reviewed for this article, I searched for information on accessibility using the search engine provided by the site. For all these sites, the search returned no documents. I even tried calling the press office at MySpace for comments several times but never received a return telephone call. It would seem that the biggest hurdle is to get the owners of these web sites even to consider accessibility.

If you have comments about this article, e-mail us at [email protected] .

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