Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why is Web 2.0 so hard to define?

Marc Andreessen has posted a provocative blog about Web 2.0 - with a headline of "Why there's no such thing as Web 2.0". It is true that the classical definition of Web 2.0 is long and complex. It doesn't trip off the tongue! Marc Andreessen points to Tim O'Reilly's compact definition:

"Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation," and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences."

Marc also pokes a little tongue in cheek fun at Dave McClure's definition:
  • web 2.0 is about rich client-side applications (aka ajax, flash, etc)
  • web 2.0 is about tagging & ratings & voting (aka Flickr, Loomia, etc)
  • web 2.0 is about user participation & user-generated content (aka Digg)
  • web 2.0 is about APIs, RSS, and web services (aka Amazon, Google, Yahoo, eBay, etc)
  • web 2.0 is about mashups & remixing content (aka HousingMaps, ChicagoCrime, etc)
  • web 2.0 is about web 2.0
Dave does in fact gets us to a more easily memorable definition - if only by example. Which really serves to support Marc's underlying message - Web 2.0 is a label that has been utilized to define new business startups. What you notice with Dave's definition is that it uses compelling products and services to define the current boundaries of this Web 2.0 stuff. As Marc says - Web 2.0 has been latched on to by the entrepreneurial and venture communities to categorize new startups and leading lights in the Web industry. But Web 2.0 is real partly because as Tim O'Reilly started out - We can recognize what is NOT Web 2.0. My own humble attempt at a definition is this: "Web 2.0 defines web-delivered services and products that unleash the power of user generated, shared knowledge and discovery, delivered via a rich fabric of loosely connected, adaptable applications and open interfaces that are hosted in an entrepreneurial eco-system that monetizes the emergent knowledge pool for the shared advantage of the serivice creators and their community of users." I have probably missed some crucial aspect of What is Web 2.0 - if I have please help tell me. Leave a comment below.


  1. I'll use the term "web 2.0" as long as my clients want to use it!

  2. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Web 2.0 to me is about simply users being both consumers and producers.

    The timing of other technologies such as AJAX, mashups, web servicess people are just trying to bundle them in under 2.0.