The first time I heard the term Web 2.0, I was so confused. I thought it referred to some new specification for HTML or CSS or JS or SOMETHING. However, Wikipedia soon set me straight (how very Web 2.0!) and I have carried on my merry way ever since. Now everyone’s whispering about Web 3.0 (i.e. the Semantic Web), but that’s neither here nor there.
If I had to describe Web 2.0 in one word, that word would without a doubt be “interactive.” Social media, of course, plays a significant role in that, because of the ability to engage in conversations with other people with whom you may have similar interests (or not), social ties (e.g. family and friends), or with whom (or which!) you do business (as in the case of someone posting on a company’s Facebook page). However, Web 2.0 is not restricted to social media, to my way of thinking. I think that Web 2.0 extends to a collaborative way of thinking and living, as seen in wikis (for knowledge sharing), sites like GitHub and SourceForge (for software development), and the rise of the Creative Commons.
To expand on the one word “interactive” into a sentence encapsulating some of what Web 2.0 is, I would say something like that where Web 1.0 placed control and/or authority to a select few, Web 2.0 gives control and/or authority–or at least some portion of it–to the user base at large. This is evident in phenomena such as the use of social media as a news source (as opposed to traditional media) or Amazon.com, where users provide feedback on the products offered by the site, either by leaving reviews or even by simply using the site.
I think that Web 2.0 is a very broad concept and group of phenomena, but this is how I understand it. It is probably one of those things that means different things to different people depending on their point of view, although there are some themes that dominate the picture.