Even if you don’t fully understand what Web 2.0 is, chances are that you make regular use of services which operate on the Web 2.0 platform. In fact, many of the businesses that follow a Web 2.0 model didn’t even realize they were a part of Web 2.0 until years later. Web 2.0 came about not as a development model but rather as a means to describe changes that were already taking place in the world of the Internet.

The basis of what makes something a part of Web 2.0 is its use of the Internet. Web 2.0 services use the Internet as an operating platform, in order to create products and/or services that could not exist outside of the Internet. Technologies such as user-driven content and utilizing the networking potential of cyberspace.

Examples of Web 2.0 applications would be eBay, craigslist or Wikipedia. These are applications which require the networking capabilities in order to function; they could not exist whatsoever without the World Wide Web. What is available through these services is not generated by higher ups but is rather user generated, making the people who use the service a part of the process.

The term Web 2.0 was first coined in 2003 by OReilly Media, one of the biggest players in the world of Internet knowledge and reporting. By 2003 most of the major players that we see in the world of Web 2.0 had already been established. The Internet-based platform was being utilized by all sorts of different businesses and services. Some of the key names that are often pointed to as part of the Web 2.0 paradigm are: Google, Wikipedia, Amazon.com, etc.

So how do you differentiate Web 2.0 from Web 1.0? Look at how you react with a web page. Web 1.0 is essentially a place for reading and taking in information. Britannica Online, for example, is a Web 1.0 application. It is just the old Encyclopedia Britannica now put onto the World Wide Web. Wikipedia pushes the technology of the Internet further; it not only allows you to access information but it is a community driven encyclopedia where you are a part of the creation and editing process.

Under Web 1.0 your interaction as a user with whatever company created the web site you were looking at. Web 2.0 is a system of community and social networking, where you are not just in a basic client-server relationship but a gargantuan peer-to-peer network where you are working with users from all over the globe in the process of interacting with the web page. Here interaction is meaningful, not just a part of increasing the user’s experience but a vital part of the maintenance of the web page.

Web 2.0 is not just the future of the Internet, it is the Internet. The first generation of the Web has all but died off, most everything we use these days follows a Web 2.0 model; most everything major, that is. Someday the Internet will progress even further than we can imagine, and it will be time for Web 3.0 to come into existence. For now, though, we’ll have to be happy with Web 2.0.