What's all the hype about Web 2.0?

Version 5

    When I first heard the term "Web 2.0," it was a little confusing to me. The Internet looked the same to me. What were they talking about? The "old" Web (in retrospect called "1.0") is still there: Web pages full of information--personal Web pages, Web pages for businesses, lists and links to other Web pages, Web pages for research and news... And although these pages could and would sometimes be changed by the author, for the most part, they were fairly static--and certainly the viewer couldn't make any changes to them. This was the Web pre-2004--and much of the Web today is still considered "1.0."



    An example of a "Web 1.0" Web site, an online encyclopedia—created by “experts”


    The term "Web 2.0" actually is attributed to a marketing brainstorming session in 2004 for a conference that would later be named the Web 2.0 Conference. So, yes, it's a made-up, marketing buzzword, but one that has certainly taken hold. It's now come to mean the part of the Web that allows, even encourages, user participation. No longer are you relegated to simply looking at information. You can now contribute to the creation of content--and the organization and dissemination of that content.


    Three completely new creatures began to take hold starting around 2004 to take advantage of the "read-write-share" Web: wikis, blogs, and podcasts. Both wikis and blogs allow users to create and share Web content easily and cheaply. Although audio and video files have been on the Internet since its beginning, podcasting allows "amateurs" to share audio (and later video) broadcasts in a new way. The term "podcast" specifically refers to the ability to "syndicate" regularly scheduled "shows"--to allow people to subscribe to the broadcasts, which would download automatically to their playback device. We’ll take a quick look at blogs, wikis, and podcasts in future articles.


    Of course, Web 2.0 does not simply mean blogs, wikis, and podcasts--they're simply the most well known of the Web 2.0 family. To put it simply, any resource or tool that you use on the Web to rearrange or create content could be categorized under the Web 2.0 umbrella.


    With Web 2.0 resources, you use web-based applications to create pretty much anything you need rather than relying on software installed on your computer. Then you can share and collaborate with others to further develop that...presentation, document, spreadsheet, concept map, image, video, annotated map, chart, diagram, and so on.



    An example of a "Web 2.0" Web site, Google Docs--Notice: You create the content


    Web 2.0 means no special software, no need to know special coding, no need to be a techie to share your ideas. We can all write, not just read—and then share with the world or just our “friends.” Now that's exciting. And the other truly revolutionary part of all this: these Web 2.0 tools are usually free. Music to an educator's ears.


    For more on this topic, continue to Judi's blogs about various Web 2.0 resources and their use in education, starting with Blogging 101.