After studying this section you should be able to do the following:
Over the past few years a fundamentally different class of Internet services has attracted users, made headlines, and increasingly garnered breathtaking market valuations. Often referred to under the umbrella term “Web 2.0A term broadly referring to Internet services that foster collaboration and information sharing; characteristics that distinctly set “Web 2.0” efforts apart from the static, transaction-oriented Web sites of “Web 1.0.” The term is often applied to Web sites and Internet services that foster social media or other sorts of peer production.,” these new services are targeted at harnessing the power of the Internet to empower users to collaborate, create resources, and share information in a distinctly different way from the static Web sites and transaction-focused storefronts that characterized so many failures in the dot-com bubble. Blogs, wikis, social networks, photo and video sharing sites, and tagging systems all fall under the Web 2.0 moniker, as do a host of supporting technologies and related efforts.
The term Web 2.0 is a tricky one because like so many popular technology terms there’s not a precise definition. Coined by publisher and pundit Tim O’Reilly in 2003, techies often joust over the breadth of the Web 2.0 umbrella and over whether Web 2.0 is something new or simply an extension of technologies that have existed since the creation of the Internet. These arguments aren’t really all that important. What is significant is how quickly the Web 2.0 revolution came about, how unexpected it was, and how deeply impactful these efforts have become. Some of the sites and services that have evolved and their Web 1.0 origins are listed in Table 6.1 "Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0".Adapted from T. O’Reilly, “What Is Web 2.0?” O’Reilly, September 30, 2005.
Table 6.1 Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0
|Web 1.0||Web 2.0|
|personal Web sites||→||blogging|
|evite||→||upcoming.org and E.V.D.B.|
|domain name speculation||→||search engine optimization|
|page views||→||cost per click|
|screen scraping||→||Web services|
|content management systems||→||wikis|
|directories (taxonomy)||→||tagging (“folksonomy”)|
To underscore the speed with which Web 2.0 arrived on the scene, and the impact of leading Web 2.0 services, consider the following efforts:
Table 6.2 Major Web 2.0 Tools
|Description||Features||Technology Providers||Use Case Examples|
|Blogs||Short for “Web log”—an online diary that keeps a running chronology of entries. Readers can comment on posts. Can connect to other blogs through blog rolls or trackbacks. Key uses: Share ideas, obtain feedback, mobilize a community.||
|Wikis||A Web site that anyone can edit directly from within the browser. Key uses: Collaborate on common tasks or to create a common knowledge base.||
|Electronic Social Network||Online community that allows users to establish a personal profile, link to other profiles (i.e., friends), and browse the connections of other, and communicate with members via messaging, posts, et cetera.
|Microblogging||Short, asynchronous messaging system. Users send messages to “followers.” Key Uses: distributing time, sensitive information, sharing opinions, virally spreading ideas, running contests and promotions, soliciting feedback, providing customer support, tracking commentary on firms/products/issues, organizing protests.||
Millions of users, billions of dollars, huge social impact, and these efforts weren’t even on the radar of most business professionals when today’s graduating college seniors first enrolled as freshmen. The trend demonstrates that even some of the world’s preeminent thought leaders and business publications can be sideswiped by the speed of the Internet.
Consider that when management guru Michael Porter wrote a piece titled, “Strategy and the Internet” at the end of the dot-com bubble, he lamented the high cost of building brand online, questioned the power of network effects, and cast a skeptical eye on ad-supported revenue models. Well, it turns out Web 2.0 efforts challenged all of these assumptions. Among the efforts above, all built brand on the cheap with little conventional advertising, and each owes their hypergrowth and high valuation to their ability to harness the network effect. In June, 2008, BusinessWeek also confessed to having an eye off the ball. In a cover story on social media, the magazine offered a mea culpa, confessing that while blogging was on their radar, editors were blind to the bigger trends afoot online, and underestimated the rise and influence of social networks, wikis, and other efforts.Stephen Baker and Heather Green, “Beyond Blogs: What Every Business Needs to Know,” BusinessWeek, June 2, 2008.
While the Web 2.0 moniker is a murky one, we’ll add some precision to our discussion of these efforts by focusing on peer productionWhen users collaboratively work to create content and provide services online. Includes social media sites, as well as peer-produced services, such as Skype and BitTorrent, where the participation of users provide the infrastructure and computational resources that enable the service., perhaps Web 2.0’s most powerful feature, where users work, often collaboratively, to create content and provide services online. Web-based efforts that foster peer production are often referred to as social mediaContent that is created, shared, and commented on by a broader community of users. Services that support the production and sharing of social media include blogs, wikis, video sites like YouTube, and most social networks. or user-generated content sites. These sites include blogs; wikis; social networks like Facebook and MySpace; communal bookmarking and tagging sites like Del.icio.us; media sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr; and a host of supporting technologies. And it’s not just about media. Peer-produced services like Skype and BitTorrent leverage users’ computers instead of a central IT resource to forward phone calls and video. This ability saves their sponsors the substantial cost of servers, storage, and bandwidth. Techniques such as crowdsourcing, where initially undefined groups of users band together to solve problems, create code, and develop services, are also a type of peer production. These efforts will be expanded on below, along with several examples of their use and impact.