By: By Brenda J. Trainor
If you are not a geek, or at least somewhat interested in technology, you may not yet have heard of Web 2.0. But if you are in business and use any kind of Internet services (that should be just about everybody!), the concept of Web 2.0 is something you need to know about. It has been around as a concept for a few years, but in 2008, it seems to be a more common concept discussed in the trades beyond geekdom a lot more frequently.
So for the benefit of the non-geeks out there, let’s start with the basics. The Internet is a series of a data networks where different applications and programs travel rapidly and where all those bits of data are interpreted by the computers on our desks, directed by our keyboards and mouse clicks. Different sets of protocols the treat how that data is handled allow us to do different things with our computers. Simple enough to grasp, right?
The World Wide Web (the “www” in many web site addresses) defines a particular set of protocols so that when the data stream hits your computer, it becomes pages of words and graphics, often that includes some kind of interactivity – the ability of the viewer to click and send an email, or click and be directed to another page, or click and watch a video – all of these things are interactivity.
So what is Web 2.0? Essentially it is the next-generation of web services – the meta-Web, or the Web on steroids. What makes it something different is the scope and complexity of the kinds of services available on Web, and most importantly, how people are using web site services. Web 2.0 means more interaction, and more ways of communicating – it is about connections to blogs and podcasts and videos, and discussions about what is on a site. The conceptual definition of Web 2.0 is the idea of collaboration – how users are sharing and contributing to the content of what is on the web.
Collaboration is one of the key philosophies of how the Internet was developed – web sites are ways of sharing information easily, openly, and quickly. Web 2.0 is the souped up version of web applications, it defines the set of applications that further encourage sharing, participation and navigation.
Here are some of the things you see with increasing frequency that are indicators of the concept of Web 2.0: when you read an article on a web site, have you ever seen a list of links at the end of the article like: Digg, del.icio.us, newsvine, or Reddit? These are links to service applications that help users to categorize, recommend, and share views about that particular article. Users join the “electronic community” of members to talk about or criticize the content of an article, or to define its popularity with votes. And these sites help direct people to other information along a similar theme. These services are like tour guides through the web – you benefit from the advice and opinion of others.
What does Web 2.0 mean for the web site of your business? It means that you need to keep on the cutting edge – if your site is nothing more than an electronic business card, then you simply need to be sure it shows up on search engines. But if you want your customers to use your site with frequency, think about how you can create a “community” of customers who give you feedback and who promote your site to others on the web. Figure out how to reach them via their cell phones, or through videos, or with podcasts or polls. Participation is the key to a Web 2.0 world – and in that world, a good company has a happy customers pointing others towards you.
Brenda J Trainor
Frontier Trail, Inc.