What is Web 2.0?

Michael Anissimov

There is no standard definition for web 2.0, as it is a cluster of ideas rather than anything clear-cut. However, O'Reilly's comments on the topic are seen as having special authority, and rank among the top Google search results for the term.

The first premise of web 2.0 is leveraging the power of the user.
The first premise of web 2.0 is leveraging the power of the user.

The first premise of web 2.0 is leveraging the power of the user. For example, fluid user tagging of content would be used instead of a centralized taxonomy. Web 2.0 entrepreneurs often consider the Long Tail, which is basically an observation that the vast majority of the attention market is based on niche content. This version of the web is radically decentralized, as in the case of BitTorrent, a collaborative downloading co-op that consumes a serious portion of all Internet traffic.

Blogs are considered web 2.0. Instead of centralized "personal home pages", blogs let people easily post as much or as little as they want as rarely or as frequently as they want. Feed aggregators ensure that people only need to visit a single site to see all the feeds they subscribe to. Comments are enabled everywhere, allowing people to participate rather than passively consume content.

The web page Digg is an example of web 2.0. Unlike traditional news pages for which editors choose the top stories, Digg's front page content is determined by the voting of many thousands of users. The more votes a story gets, the more likely it is to be featured on the front page.

Web 2.0 marketing is supposed to be viral - that is, happy users encouraging their friends to use a product, rather than massive advertising brainwashing people into doing so. This ties in with the idea of "permission marketing" - marketing that actually gets the permission of its targets rather than shoving an ad in someone's face against their will. Some people call web 2.0 just another bubble like the first. Only time will tell whether these companies are truly profitable or "merely" trendy and useful.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

Has web 2.0 been a success or a failure? Let's be honest here.

Social media is great, but doesn't it also seem like a big distraction and an unnecessary fascination?

There are thousands of clever Youtube videos, but millions of others that would have been better off never having been posted.

Does anyone actually like Twitter?

My point is just that all these new sites and services that everyone uses and loves have their drawbacks as well.


How does cloud computing fit into web 2.0? Is this considered part of that movement, or is it a part of some other development?

Personally, I think this is one of the most exciting advances in computing in a long time. If you can store increasingly large amounts of data on the internet, then sometime in the near future you will have total access to any and all of your information anywhere you go.


Are we still in the midst of web 2.0 or have we moved on to something new? Sites like Facebook and Youtube that defined the new shift are pretty old hat by now. In fact, my grandmother just got a Facebook account and my dad probably watches more videos than I do. When is web 3.0 coming and what will it look like?


@Iluviaporos - I like what I think of as the central concept of web 2.0, that content can be made and driven by lots of users, from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.

I think at this point, that concept can be said to be a success and I only have to point at sites like Wikipedia for an example. Wikipedia should be considered one of the wonders of the world and it was made almost entirely on a volunteer basis. That's just incredible.


@Fa5t3r - I don't know. I mean, web 2.0 is such a nebulous concept that I don't think it's going to burst either, but there are plenty of standard ideas within that concept that have managed to tank over time.

The main one that jumps to mind are those group voucher sites. They were supposed to be about getting a lot of people to buy the same thing so it would be cheaper than it might otherwise be and they were very successful, very fast, because it seemed like both the consumer and the companies who participated were benefiting. But, then it turned out the companies weren't benefiting all that much. And so the vouchers are starting to dry up.

When people talk about Web 2.0 they can mean any number of things, which means that web 2.0 is going to be around for a long time because even if one of those things disappears or falls flat, the others will still be around to point at.


I could be wrong, but I think by this point we can see that Web 2.0 isn't a bubble. It's definitely possible that some of the companies that are selling on the internet right now aren't going to last, but the idea of aggregation of information through community and how it relates to stores and content online isn't going away.

The reason the first dot com bubble burst is because people weren't actually buying all that much. The companies were all banking heavily on future success without actually doing anything to ensure it.

Amazon is a pretty good example of an extremely successful internet company and web 2.0 site that shows how different things are these days.

Post your comments
Forgot password?