Blogger: Richard Monson-Haefel
There is a simple definition that I use for Web 2.0, which to me is less of a thing and more of a label for lots of things. When you boil the Web 2.0 rhetoric down to its essence you are left with two concepts: the web and participation. That's it. Everything else about Web 2.0 (e.g. mashups, RIA, Ajax) are simply enabling technologies. I really like the term "Architecture of Participation" which was coined by Tim O'Reilly - to me that is far more descriptive of the real revolution that has been occurring since ARPANET was first created but has recently escalated in its current manifestation on the Web.
So my definition of Web 2.0 is simply this:
"Web 2.0 is an Architecture of Participation built on the World Wide Web"
The ideas behind the Architecture of Participation are fundamental to the revolution in computing and the Web is currently the best platform on which to realize that architecture.
I have read a lot about the Web, the architecture of participation, and Web 2.0, but the very best explanations of what it's really all about come in two contributions which, not ironically, are available for free on the Web. If you really want to understand what is happening today; the revolution that has been brewing for four decades, than read "We are the Web" an article published on Wired in August 2005 by Kevin Kelly and then view this video posted on YouTube by Mike Wesch an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University.
If you read the article (I think you can safely ignore the end where the author predicts the future in 2015 because as he points out we have not been very good at predicting the future impact of the Web or the Internet) and watch the video and then think of Web 2.0 as "an Architecture of Participation built on the World Wide Web", then you may reach an epiphany, as I did, and say "I get it!" Which will quickly be followed by "Wow!".