There's an awful lot of jargon in the IT industry and Web 2.0 is a phrase steeped in more mystery and controversy than most.
Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, famously once said in a developerWorks interview: "I think Web 2.0 is, of course, a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means". However it is understood to be the basis of today's most successful and popular websites and is hailed by many as the future for the internet.
Wikipedia describes Web 2.0 as "a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web." In other words, any website which allows you post reviews, make comments, upload pictures, videos or audio files or interact in any other way can be said to be an example of Web 2.0.
From a user point of view, this means you can interact with a website in many different ways without having to change screens. For example you might review a book on Amazon or poke a friend in Facebook in a single click and without leaving the page you're currently looking at.
It's more than just the technology used though - the contributory and creative aspects of Web 2.0 are the principle features.
The first generation of websites were often just static brochures or adverts for companies that existed outside the web. Information went one way, from the website to the visitor. Now people can share their thoughts or comments, making websites richer and more interesting to visit. Some of the most successful websites consist entirely of user contributions and the organisations which run them do not exist outside the web.
The controversy about the term Web 2.0 has arisen because some people argue these principles have always existed, but it's only now that websites allow people to use the web as it was originally intended. As Tim Berners-Lee said "that was what the Web was supposed to be all along".
Whatever we understand Web 2.0 to mean, most people would agree that the internet has evolved into a richer and more user-friendly place to be. Visitors are increasingly sophisticated, expecting rich media interfaces, clever use of technology and the opportunity to contribute to websites.
At Iteracy we have extensive experience of building and running user contribution sites and implementing Web 2.0 technologies such as AJAX. If you are interested in updating your existing website or starting a new website, get in touch to discuss the possibilities.