A Worthwhile Definition of Web 2.0

The thing I’ve most disliked about the term “Web 2.0” is that most people use it to define something old as if it were something new. For example, some people have used the term to define myspace.com as a Web 2.0 application. However, they should remember that Geocities offered many of the same capabilities as myspace.com, but has been around since long before the term Web 2.0 was coined (since late 1995, to be exact).

Finally Tom Scott has done a great job underlining the essence of Web 2.0 applications. He describes exactly that part of Web 2.0 applications that is actually new. He also underlines the importance of good URL design and points out that it is even more important than graphic design (and I fully agree), but even good URL design isn’t exactly new. In fact, it’s been the mantra of many since the very beginning of the web, and for exactly the same reasons.

In the end, perhaps the only thing that differentiates these new web applications from pre-Web 2.0 web applications is the effort they put into making their data accessible to other systems. And if this is the case, is it really worth coining a new term to describe it? If so, why aren’t we just calling them what they are: web applications based on open standards? And finally, I don’t think the fact that most emerging web applications are embracing open standards should come as a surprise to anyone since it is a great way to grow your user base.

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