Web 2.0 is a buzzword that has been flying around for some time now, but what exactly does Web 2.0 mean. Web 2.0 is cumulative changes in the way software developers and end-users interact with websites on the internet, it is not an update to any technical specification of how the web works. Web 2.0 can be thought of as the rebirth of web site design and interaction. It aims to create an interactive internet, an internet that is more than just retrieving information. With older Web 1.0 websites, information was simply provided to the user. With Web 2.0, websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. Web 2.0 has expanded on Web 1.0 by giving the end user more control.

Web 2.0 can be defined into three categories:

  • Rich Internet Application (RIA)
  • Service-oriented Architecture (SOA)
  • Social Web

RIA

A RIA is a web or browser, based application that provides a desktop like application look and feel. RIA’s make the most use of emerging Web 2.0 programming technologies. A perfect example of a web 2.0 RIA is google. As you type a search term, google sends that term to their servers, and responds with suggested search phrases. This rich interface allows data to be sent back and fourth without any page reloads, giving the user a desktop like feel in a web browser.

Web 2.0 websites are able to provide a desktop like interface in a web browser through a set of client-server technologies. The technologies typically used in conjunction with web application programming languages, such as php and asp.net, are asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), Adobe Flash, and Microsoft Silverlight. These technologies allow data to be sent in the background to and from the web server. This goes against Web 1.0 design methods where users had to wait for a page reload to send or retrieve any new data. This follows the same theme as a desktop application. When using a desktop application, data is sent and received in the background, meaning you do not have to wait for the server request to finish before you can move onto another task.

SOA

Service-oriented Architecture is a key piece of Web 2.0. SOA is how a Web 2.0 application exposes its backend functionality to allow for other programs to interact with it. This is how ‘mash-up’ applications work. They use the exposed function of already existing applications to create a new application. Once again using google as an example, google maps give you access into their mapping system. This allows developers to integrate their applications into google maps. For example, if you want to create a map of smokers by age in your state, all you have to do is feed the exposed google maps functions your data and it will be overlaid onto a map.

Social Web

Lastly, social web is an important aspect of Web 2.0 because it gives the user the power to interact with the web page. It allows users to collaborate with other users though web applications such as blogs or forums. An example of this would be facebook. As most of us know, facebook is the epitome of the social web because that is the sole purpose of facebook, to allow web users to interact with each other. Today, most of us can not think of life without facebook.

Web 2.0 has given rise to a new set of once seemingly impossible web applications. What took companies large mainframes 15 years ago can now be almost all done on the web. This new power that Web 2.0 has given us has changed the way we work, communicate, and gather information. No longer are we in an age where information is simply presented to us with a dancing spot graphic and logos with burning fire. Today, we can all contribute to and benefit from the new wave of technologies that is ever evolving and integrating more and more into our every day lives.

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