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Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is one of the most repeated buzzwords in this decade. It sounds like a totally new version of the World Wide Web. In reality however, Web 2.0 is a collective term for new generation web development and design that have facilitated better communication, interoperability and most importantly, user participation. The layman experiences the possibilities opened up by Web 2.0 through social networking sites, video sharing sites, blogs, and wikis.

Evolution of Web 2.0
The term Web 2.0 gained wide attention in 2003 when Eric Knorr, executive editor of InfoWorld, used it in his article Fast Forward 2010 - The Fate of IT in the December 2003 special issue of the business IT magazine CIO. The O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference further reinforced the concept of the Internet as a platform as represented by the term Web 2.0. Technology thinkers such as Eric Knorr and Craig Cline agree that Web 2.0 refers to the new ways in which businesses, software developers and end-users utilize the characteristics of the Web. The new approach was best captured when Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google said “don’t fight the internet”.

Salient Features of Web 2.0- How do they Compare with Web 1.0?
The most important change Web 2.0 brought in perhaps is enhanced user participation. In web sites developed the traditional way, users could only retrieve data or view the content on a web site. This characteristic has been changing with the advent of the concept of Web 2.0 and users can now run software applications through a browser, create and own data and generally add value to an application as they use it. Thus the dynamics of Web 2.0 rides on features such as rich user experience, user participation, dynamic content, metadata and scalability. Thus Web 2.0 stands for collective intelligence as against Web 1.0 as information source.

The ease of user participation has propelled the application of Web 2.0 in many new fields. For instance, Web 2.0 has been gaining popularity in the public sector as it enables ordinary citizens to gain access to higher government officials and decision-makers. We can also expect to see a rise in public diplomacy initiatives after the fashion of the Israeli government and consumer forums. Higher education, scientific and technological research and social work are all fields that stand to benefit from the possibility of bringing together isolated intelligence, information and experience of diverse people from different parts of the world.

Economic Implications of Web 2.0
As Web 2.0 works to accelerate the global outsourcing trend, many economists predict an ultimate democratization of worldwide economy. Skeptics however, hold that it will only lead to subtler forms of exploitation as companies start looking for the cheapest bidder. However, as the decision-making is now decentralized, the emphasis could shift from profit-making to a cooperative economy.

Internet pioneers like Tim Berners-Lee consider Web 2.0 as just another passing buzzword that does not really mean anything. However, one could safely say that the highly interactive environment Web 2.0 has ushered in has far reaching consequences to the way we go about business and life.

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