So what is this Web 2.0 anyway?

Posted by chiefworker on 18 August 2009

So what is this Web 2.0 anyway?

The other day I wanted to get a website built and called up a few web developers around the world, NZ, Australia, India and the Philippines to be precise. Like many businesses (this was an experiment) we had this fantastic website in mind, no written description of course and there was one thing we were clear about - we wanted a Web 2.0 site.

Well, all the developers - after talking to us for 60 minutes (on Skype of course) offered to build us a Web 2.0 website - it would seem that none of them will build us anything other than a Web 2.0 website at all.

We thought, goodness gracious - what were we doing all these years ! So we took a deep breath and got together to develop some clarity of understanding on this Web 2.0 thing. We took journey of learning from peers and found this wonderful video.

In our view, Web 2.0 is actually quite simple:

"A Web 2.0 is a website that allows its users, who may be anonymous, to contribute content that can become a part of the website, instantly"

(ok - we have simplified it - but that is the point of it all!)

So let us consider the Management, Technical and End User point of view (POV):

  1. Management POV: This presents a conundrum, on one hand there is the attraction of obtaining "real" input from the end user of the website and indeed foster a "branded " community of opinion (social computing!) ,however this is a genie once let out of the bottle is kind of hard to put back in. Web 2.0 end users give generously and in that giving they have expectations of what someone will do with their contributions- the organisation needs to be very careful in setting the expectation.

  2. Technical POV:   This presents the opportunity to deploy some interesting technologies, however it presents issues of scalability and resilience. One simple issue is, how much server and bandwidth grunt does one allow? How does one deal with a deluge of contribution? There are many other technical dimensions, but we think the issue of good old RAS (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability) takes on particular significance in Web 2.0 public facing websites.

  3. End use POV:  This appears extremely empowering but then who ends up owning the content that I just contributed and what control do I have over its use? Proof point - consider this from Google: "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish ... Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google..." full text

So while the concept, use and of course the technology is quite straight forward, there are commercial and legal issues to deal with with. More on each of these in future posts.

Of course this post only focused on public facing Web 2.0 websites.

Inside the corporate "Cloud", in our opinion, Web 2.0 is a once in a life time opportunity to harness the collective knowledge, wisdom and capabilty of the people the commercial and legal risks are significantly less.

What do you think?

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