Saturday, October 22, 2005

eBusiness | Web 2.0? Huh?

A new, fancy term has emerged: Web 2.0.

If you've heard it, or read about it then you've probably got a good idea that it's somehow related to the 'new Internet boom' we're witnessing which is now characterized by the huge success of the survivors of the old boom (Yahoo, eBay …etc) and new players (Google, Skype..etc).

If you search the term on Google, you'll get millions of search results, so you can see what a big thing it is. However, there seems to be some disagreement on what it means.

To understand it better, the best way is to illustrate the difference between what a Web 1.0 company, and what a Web 2.0 company. For example, mp3.com tries to sell music, while Napster allows users to share it; Britanicca online just slaps its content onto the web, while Wikipedia allows users to upload their own encyclopedia entries for everything; DoubleClick sells banner advertising on websites it represents while Google Adsense offers the gentler sponsored links approach and enables everyone to become a money-making publisher.

As you can see, the Web 2.0 companies and ideas have high user participation and interactivity.
In fact, they are driven by users, realizing the dream of the Internet making money just by being used!

The initiator of this term, Tim O'Reily, believes that the Web 2.0 spirit is now upon us and things can only get better.

He adds some philosophical explanations as to how Web 2.0 is different, saying that sites are now like solar systems with a central core surrounded by planets run by users, he also says that sites and services cannot be packaged, they transcend physical aspects and control over them is futile as users drive them.

It's interesting here to compare Netscape with Google, as Netscape's IPO triggered the first Internet revolution, while Google's IPO has triggered the second. Take a look at the way Netscape was a packaged, proprietary piece of software that was an elementary tool but which did not truly empower users to interact. While Google is a platform for interactivity.

Therefore another one of the Web 2.0 principles is that a platform will beat an application every time, while harnessing collective intelligence. Obviously, the Web is now a collective, a lot like the Borg in Star Trek!

Users even drive the system upgrades, as the age of the official software release ends and the age of the constantly updated system begins. It seems like a cross between open-source and power to the people!

So, what’s going to happen next?

That’s difficult to say in a fast moving industry like the Internet. When will Web 2.0 move on to Web 3.0? That’s a bit of a long-shot at the moment. There may never even be a Web 3.0 if 2.0 is supposedly so wonderful.

In any case, for those of you who are in e-business: Take Note. Things have already changed. You don’t want to be stuck in Web 1.0 now, would you?

zeid@maktoob.com

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