In 2003 there was a noticeable shift in how people and businesses were using the web and developing web-based applications. The term Web 2.0 was coined by Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly® Media1 in 2003 to describe this trend. Although it became a major media buzzword, few people really know what Web 2.0 means. Generally, Web 2.0 companies use the web as a platform to create collaborative, community-based sites (e.g., social net-working sites, blogs, wikis, etc.).
Web 1.0 (the state of the web through the 1990s and early 2000s) was focused on a relatively small number of companies and advertisers producing content for users to access (some people called it the “brochure web”). Web 2.0 involves the user—not only is the content often created by the users, but users help organize it, share it, remix it, critique it, update it, etc. One way to look at Web 1.0 is as a lecture, a small number of professors informing a large audience of students. In comparison, Web 2.0 is a conversation, with everyone having the opportunity to speak and share views.
Web 2.0 is providing new opportunities and connecting people and content in unique ways. Web 2.0 embraces an architecture of participation—a design that encour-ages user interaction and community contributions. You, the user, are the most important aspect of Web 2.0—so important, in fact, that in 2006, TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” was “you.”2 The article recognized the social phenomenon of Web 2.0—the shift away from a powerful few to an empowered many. Several popular blogs now compete with traditional media powerhouses, and many Web 2.0 companies are built almost entirely on user-generated content. For websites like MySpace®, Facebook®, Flickr™, YouTube, eBay® and Wikipedia®, users create the content, while the companies provide the platforms. These companies trust their users—without such trust, users cannot make significant contributions to the sites.
The architecture of participation has influenced software development as well. Open source software is available for anyone to use and modify with few or no restrictions. Using collective intelligence—the concept that a large diverse group of people will create smart ideas—communities collaborate to develop software that many people believe is better and more robust than proprietary software. Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are being devel oped using technologies (such as Ajax) that have the look and feel of desktop software, enhancing a user’s overall experience. Software as a Service (SaaS)—software that runs on a server instead of a local computer—has also gained prominence because of sophisticated new technologies and increased broadband Internet access.
Search engines, including Google™, Yahoo!®, MSN®, Ask™, and many more, have become essential to sorting through the massive amount of content on the web. Social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us and Ma.gnolia allow users to share their favorite sites with others. Social media sites such as Digg™, Spotplex™ and Netscape® enable the community to decide which news articles are the most significant. The way we find the information on these sites is also changing—people are tagging (i.e., labeling) web content by subject or keyword in a way that helps anyone locate information more effectively.
Web services have emerged and, in the process, have inspired the creation of many Web 2.0 businesses. Web services allow you to incorporate functionality from existing applications and websites into your own web applications quickly and easily. For example, using Amazon Web Services™, you can create a specialty bookstore and earn revenues through the Amazon Associates Program; or, using Google™ Maps web services with eBay web services, you can build location-based “mashup” applications to find auction items in certain geographical areas. Web services, inexpensive computers, abundant high-speed Internet access, open source software and many other elements have inspired new, exciting, lightweight business models that people can launch with only a small invest-ment. Some types of websites with rich and robust functionality that might have required hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to build in the 1990s can now be built for nominal amounts of money.
In the future, we’ll see computers learn to understand the meaning of the data on the web—the beginnings of the Semantic Web are already appearing. Continual improve-ments in hardware, software and communications technologies will enable exciting new types of applications.
These topics and more are covered in a detailed walkthrough in Chapter 3, Dive Into® Web 2.0. The chapter highlights the major characteristics and technologies of Web 2.0, providing examples of popular Web 2.0 companies and Web 2.0 Internet business and monetization models. You’ll learn about user-generated content, blogging, content networks, social networking, location-based services and more. In Chapters 4–28, you’ll learn key software technologies for building web-based applications in general, and Ajax-enabled, web-based Rich Internet Applications in particular. See our Web 2.0 Resource Center at www.deitel.com/web2.0/ for more information.
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