0 is "…a broad name used for a number of different experiments that are being done in the research community" (Reddy & Goodman, 2002, p. 12). The emphasis here is in 'experiment' as Web 2.0 is a platform for the testing of new applications and innovation, as well as being an area for research and development in education and science.
The differences in the way that Web 2.0 functions can be seen in the concept of the Internet as a new platform or environment. This is a concept that exceeds the idea that a new Internet would merely offer new applications that would be in essence an extension of Internet 1.0. As Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle note, Web 2.0 means "… building applications that literally get better the more people use them, harnessing network effects not only to acquire users, but also to learn from them and build on their contributions" (O'Reilly and John Battelle, 2006). This vision of an Internet that grows in an almost organic sense, where the user becomes an integral part of the growth of knowledge, is central to the ideals of Web 2.0; and is an aspect that has cultural and social consequences.
The above view in extremely significant in that it reveals much about the radical nature of the new Internet. It emphasizes the foundational value of true interactivity and user interfaces that allows for creative input, which in turn changes the content of sites and shapes the Internet. In other words, the Internet becomes a platform for collaboration on many different levels that has culture-changing consequences. This view is expressed by O'Reilly and John Battelle as follows:
From Google and Amazon to Wikipedia, eBay, and craigslist, we saw that the value was facilitated by the software, but was co-created by and for the community of connected users. Since then, powerful new platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have demonstrated that same insight in new ways. Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence. By Tim (O'Reilly and John Battelle, 2006).
The term 'collective intelligence' used in the above quotation is significant in that it suggests a new perception of the power of networking and communication that transcends the prior distance between the user and the creator; and which initiates a certain new synthesis and dynamism that is linked to a very different online experience to that of Internet 1.0. The concept of the collective intelligence is further elaborated on as follows:
Collective intelligence applications depend on managing, understanding, and responding to massive amounts of user-generated data in real time. The "subsystems" of the emerging internet operating system are increasingly data subsystems: location, identity (of people, products, and places), and the skeins of meaning that tie them together. This leads to new levers of competitive advantage: Data is the "Intel Inside" of the next generation of computer applications. ( O'Reilly and Battelle, 2006)
This vision and insight into the potential of Web 2.0 has led to a clarification of the core characteristics of what constitutes Web 2.0 services. These are outlined as follows:
User-centered Design. This refers to Web design that is aimed at meeting the myriad of needs of the end-user. Importantly, it also "…empowers the user to perform certain customizations within the design. User-centered designs are cleaner, often ajax based and easy to navigate." (Core Characteristics of Web 2.0 Services).
Crowd-sourcing. This refers to the accumulating effect of numbers of sources of input. "Every small unit of contribution is important to a Web 2.0 service. Millions of such contributions eventually lead the website to state of higher relevance" (Core Characteristics of Web 2.0 Services).
Web as Platform. Accessing the Internet has moved from the desktop to online applications. In other words, a characteristic of Web 2.0 is that it is not dependent on client download. This also makes Web 2.0 Independent of any specific operating system; which in turn provides for greater accessibility and ease-of-use.
Collaboration. Collaboration is a central aspect of Web 2.0. A good example is Wikipedia where users input data and review, and change, existing data.
Decentralization of Power.
… Web 2.0 services follow a self-service model rather than being administrator dependent. For instance, Google Adsense is a self-service platform for Ad publishing.There is no administrator for allowing/rejecting the requests from the users. The users get to have a self-service system by Google which helps them deploy Ads on their site/blog quite easily." (Core Characteristics of Web 2.0 Services).
This model is also followed by sites like Digg and Stumbleupon.
Dynamic Content. Interactive input and collaboration mean that dynamic content is a primary facet of Web 2.0. "In a generation where blogosphere has overpowered the conventional mainstream media, Web 2.0 services have to be highly dynamic and proactive" (Core Characteristics of Web 2.0 Services).
A Rich User Experience. Rich media or media that can create highly interactive applications, such as XHTML, CSS 2.0,Ajax, and Flash, have been effective in creating faster and more effective web services. This has played a vital role in attracting users by creating an exciting and 'rich' Web environment.
These core aspects be summarized as follows
- fresh, useful data is the core
- the ability for other parties to manipulate that data
- "living" applications that can be easily adapted
- harnessing the collective experience
- the web as a platform, independent of user platform
- primary focus of participation, rather than publishing
- trusting of users to provide reliable content.
(Web 2.0, mashups and social networking - what is it all about?)
Infrastructure and Applications
Web 2.0 is an area that is characterized by new tools and applications that facilitate networking. These applications are also dependent on more advanced online architecture. For example, we can refer to "Quality-of-Service" guarantees. This is a service that allows for the request and allocation of differential amounts of bandwidth according to priority and demand. In practice this means that various bandwidth intensive applications such as video conferencing or virtual classrooms can take place in real-time without being delayed by bandwidth allocation problems and Internet traffic congestion. More effective architecture and infrastructure has resulted in more effective applications that are capable of more sophisticated forms of user input and interaction.
In simple terms, social networks provide for and facilitate interactive communication. They have their origins in older forums and chat rooms. However, social networks in the Web 2.0 environment have become much more interactive and sophisticated, offering a vast array of tools and applications to enhance interaction and sharing. In a typical social networking environment members "…invite their friends and colleagues to join and encourage them to also invite people they know who have similar interests. Introductions are then made between the people that have been invited throughout the various tiers of the process" (Web 2.0, mashups and social networking - what is it all about?).
Social networks have many other functions that extend beyond their social use. They also serve to "… connect businesses to consumers, consumers to consumers and businesses to businesses that otherwise may not have met. It also helps establish a network of credibility" (Web 2.0, mashups and social networking - what is it all about?).
While there are some who still view social networks as a passing fad, the vast majority of critics and commentators view these networks as a dynamic and promising new development that has already become ubiquitous in many ways. The latter view has also been extended to the working and business environment. This is evidenced by the fact that many marketers and advertisers are looking for ways and means of making social networking pay.
Social networking can be said to have evolved rapidly in response to user needs and in relation to the way that new technologies were employed by insightful designers and developers. This was certainly the case with the hugely popular Facebook, which began as a social Web site for Harvard student. "Facebook was created as a way for Mark Zuckerberg and other Harvard students to keep in touch over the Internet and get to know each other better" ( Roeder). However, the popularity of the site was dramatic and it was opened to high schools and then on the general Internet. The structure and facilities offered by the site were soon to make it one of the most popular social networks online.
The phenomenon of social networking has increased and the emergences of sites like Facebook and Twitter have raised the potential for networking and communications among people. One of the benefits of the general acceptance of social networking is the increase in accessibility between professionals and in business marketing expansion possibilities. This means that increased connectivity is made easier and this can translate into business contacts and increased referrals.
Social Networking and Businesses
The central foundational premise that informs all social networking sites is community building and, from a business perspective, the creation of business -to -business ( B2B ) and business -- to-client (B2C) relationships. Modern marketing and advertizing…