Hitchhiker's Guide to Software Architecture and Everything Else - by Michael Stal

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Active Web - formerly was Web 2.0

I am track chair of a track on Web 2.0 for the upcoming OOP conference (http://www.oopconference.com). In this context, I also agreed to give an introduction talk on what Web 2.0 is all about. Simple task, I thought in the beginning. Well, Web 2.0 is about social networking and AJAX and tag clouds and YouTube and Digg and podcasts, and ... , you name it. The name Web 2.0 is really confusing, isn't it. But, what does Web 2.0 really mean?
From my viewpoint, there is a big commonality among all those concepts and sites. Everything in Web 2.0 is about (inter)activity.
In AJAX and similar technologies - the web page is not passive anymore. Instead, it contains code fragments that actively pull/push information from/to backend servers to achieve a better user experience.
In social networks users are not passive consumers anymore, but actively connect with each other. To enable this, web sites must actively connect different people with each other.
In pages such as Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Amazon people actively share information and media. Podcasts and VideoPodcasts allow people to become active content providers. Same for P2P networks, Wikis, Blogs, ....
In other words, Web 2.0 should be better renamed to reflect the aforementioned observations. It is about the evolution of the Web from a passive medium where we find a small group of active content providers and a large group of passive content consumers to a new Web where the boundaries between content providers and content consumers more or less disappear. This new Web provides technologies and means for Web users to switch from a passive consumer to an active provider almost immediately. It is a Web where everyone can participate. It is no longer a technology platform dedicated to large companies for marketing purposes or establishing Web-shops. It is more about social interactions and active participation. It is an open medium for everyone.
My suggestion thus is: let us rename Web 2.0 to Active Web. I think, this name much better reflects what the new Web evolution is all about.


  • See this for some nice inspiration on the "new" stuff in Web 2.0 ;-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:15 AM  

  • I think Web 2.0 is not about technology at all. IMO Web 2.0 is a term describing new concepts for interaction on the web. You already pointed out the most important thing: user driven content. So for me the most important thing about Web 2.0 is the paradigm shift, that companies only provide the infrastructure for the users to provide and edit their own content. Based on this extremly high value content you can build up completly new business models because the user is telling you very exactly what he does like and what not.

    AJAX, Comet, RoR, ... are all just enabling technologies and their is a lot of hype behind it. Openbc.com for example does not use AJAX at all. I saw a little use of it at Youtube.com. I think the new technologies are still in such a hype phase, that the ROI of this investments is over estimated in a lot of situations.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:30 AM  

  • Hi Robert,

    this is a very good point. I think there are two sides of the coin. Web 2.0 is about users and developers. It is not a technology issue. It is more about technology enabling users to be active participants.

    -- Michael

    By Blogger Michael, at 2:15 AM  

  • for the German folks here and to agree with Robert: Web 2.0 means successfully implementing the "AAL"-principle: "andere arbeiten lassen"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:17 PM  

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