The latest envision of the World Wide Web was initially defined by the notion web as platform. While this umbrella term encompasses many technologies and presentation features such as web services, rich user experience as opposed to their traditional computing counterparts, much of the debate is also focused around the “democracy” given by user driven content.
Actually, user content was pioneered long before the Web 2.0 notion was presented at the O’Reilly Media conference in 2004. Many e-commerce web sites adopted amateur reviews and comments as a way of rating their products through a feedback from their customers. Nevertheless, the new forms of presentation, either being blogs, forums or wikis give a new meaning and nonetheless a new form to the term of web user contribution.
To cite from my own experience, as a former software engineer working for a large enterprise, I know that inside corporations this new way of creating, sharing and presenting the information dramatically reduces the communication boundaries between the teams. Forums and wikis help in collaborate, create plans, capture meeting notes, exchange thoughts and ideas or track projects.
These intranet sites have become real dashboards for departments and projects in the way they keep everyone as a contributor, improve the flow of communication and there is a transparency in sharing the information.
However, some could argue that the sum of all this knowledge could lead to less knowledge. Nowadays people suffer from information overload; there is no doubt about that. So, searching for a topic becomes increasingly difficult, especially as one starts to consider the accuracy of the information presented. Andrew Keen, a leading contemporary critic of citizen media, worries that we could drift towards a counter information age, if this digital evolution cannot be harnessed.
Finally, there is the opinion that Web 2.0 is simply the incarnation, of what the web was supposed to be all along. While technologies, the presentation and ease of use have obviously improved marking the technological advances, the essence of what the web was intended was always the same.
This is illustrated by a quote of web inventor Tim Berners-Lee who said:
Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.