An umbrella term for the second wave of the World Wide Web. Sometimes called the “New Internet,” Web 2.0 is not a specific technology; rather, it implies two paradigm shifts. The one most often touted is “user-generated content,” and the second is “thin client computing.”

1) The User Rules!
User-generated content, comprised of blogs, wikis and social networking sites, such as Facebook,Hi5,MySpace and Friendster, let everyone have their say on anything and publish it to the world at large. As Web applications become more sophisticated, people can easily develop elaborate personal Web pages, create a blog, and upload their own opinions, audio and video. Users are augmenting the news by reporting current events sometimes faster and with details often overlooked or ignored by the professional news media.

Although millions of opinions and videos, often very amateurish, only add to our information overload, a significant advantage to user-generated content is that truly talented authors, artists, musicians and movie makers can gain an audience much more easily than they could in the past. Word-of-mouth via the Internet is worth a fortune in promotion. Web 2.0 is leveling the playing field in all arenas just as the PC leveled the playing field in business. See blog, wiki, social networking site, MySpace, YouTube and paradigm.

2) Thin Client Computing
In thin client computing, data and applications are stored on Web servers, and a user has access from any computer via a Web browser. Thin clients are not a new concept for the Internet, but many believe that thin client computing will eventually supplant locally installed office and other applications and that turning the Web into a gigantic application server is the ultimate manifestation of Web 2.0.

In time, this could have significant impact on the type of personal computers users choose. As more software is executed from scripts embedded in Web pages, the CPU chips and operating systems become less relevant. Browsers interpret scripts the same way no matter which hardware or software environment they reside in.

In 2007, Google combined several of its office applications into Standard and Premium Editions, the latter a paid service with tech support. Because of Google’s influence, this was a watershed event for thin client computing and Web 2.0 (see Google Apps). See ASP, Web application and Enterprise 2.0.

What Caused Web 2.0?
Bandwidth and power. Faster in many cases than the T1 lines in the enterprise, cable and DSL hookups have extended high-speed connections to individuals and small businesses. In addition, the entry level computer has become powerful enough to execute programming scripts in an HTML page without noticeable delays. Combined with refinements in Web programming, the Web has become a transparent extension of an individual’s PC just as local area networks (LANs) extended the user’s computing resources inside the enterprise in the 1980s and 1990s. See AJAX.

Web Evolution
In the mid-1990s, the Web began (Web 1.0) as a repository of information and static content. Within a couple years, a huge amount of content was dynamic, returning custom results to users. By the turn of the century, the Web became much more interactive (say Web 1.5), allowing users to play, stop, rewind and fast forward through audio and video content. Web 2.0 makes Web-based applications act like local applications, but on a worldwide scale with the social implications mentioned above. In the discussion of Web 2.0, the 1.0 and 1.5 generation labels may be used occasionally, but there is no formal classification.