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Welcome to 2.0

Posted on 4.03.2006

But is it new or does it just have a new name?

I admit it. Until Peter Prestipino, Website Services’ editor, said, “Write a commentary about Web 2.0,” I didn’t know that Web 1.0 had been defined, or that there are some who have declared that the Web 1.0 “dinosaur” is dead.

Now, everyone is jumping on the 2.0 Webwagon. Everything is bigger (or smaller), better, prettier, more defined, and, most of all, interactive.

RSS feeds, Bazaarvoice, and Flickr exemplify the new movement. Web 2.0 is blogs, wikis, social nets, personalized home pages, and search engines. It’s fun, fun, fun. Quick, quick, quick.

Web 2.0 establishes villages and teamwork. This is good. It fosters viral marketing and that can be very good. Conferences about Web 2.0 often are Web 2.0 events because they can be both real and virtual, with online chats throughout the conference, and real-time video and coverage. Venture capitalists have been quick to join in, funding new versions of old material with only little more caution than they used when the Internet boom was booming.

But is it new or does it just have a new name?

The consensus seems to be that Web 2.0 has taken the best parts of 1.0 and repackaged them. It’s  become a great marketing gimmick to say, “The new 2.0 version of …”. The difference can be likened to going to the grocery store and buying lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and having so much that some of it won’t be used, or going to the salad bar and taking just what you want. We don’t have time to check out all the resources of every website, so we pick out the menu items we want and that’s what we get.

Instead of a directory or taxonomy dictated by the website, you, as a visitor, apply your own  keywords (known as tagging) to the information. As others apply their keywords and tags to yours, it creates what’s now called a folksonomy — a directory created by and for the public. This facilitates our ease of access and possibly makes the site more visible to search engines. For these sites, tables are out and CSS is in. The difference in intent is like the difference between the online Encyclopedia Britannica, where editors decide what will be published, and Wikipedia, where anyone can edit an entry. Britannica isn’t obsolete. Wikipedia isn’t a

Interactivity between site and visitors can test-market a new product or service you’re thinking  of launching. You post your ideas; perhaps in your blog, and because of the interactivity, you might receive a suggestion that would improve that product or service before it’s off your drawing board. These ideas might not have occurred to you during dozens of brainstorming sessions or focus groups. Your visitor, having invested time and thought into your site, now feels a sense of ownership and belonging — a community.

Even if you have an invisible website, accessible only through a user ID and password, you could see increased attendance at your conferences because of greater interactivity. Visitors could post questions to you and your speakers prior to your conference so your seminars could be targeted to what they want to know instead of what you want to tell them. You could hold virtual meetings open to many people that might never take the time or expense to attend a real meeting or conference.

Do you need to know all the new terminology (AJAX, Goowy or GUI, kiko, etc.) to understand the capabilities of Web 2.0? Unless you’re selling bells and whistles, (or you design and create websites) there’s a good chance you won’t need all these bells and whistles on your site; or you could already have the 2.0 features you and your site visitors need. If all you need is a site that has generation one information on it, then Web 1.0 isn’t dead and that’s fine.

Otherwise, understanding the concept is sufficient. You don’t need to know how electricity works to turn on the computer.

Judy Colbert, Tuff Turtle Publishing, LLC

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