Web 2.0? Or Is It More Like Web 16.0?

It has become difficult to keep up with the meanings of all the new phrases and terms generated by modern technology. One of the most commonly used phrases on the world wide web (www) today is “Web 2.0.” It seems like every web solutions company is using this phrase to sell its stuff. So to the average Joe who’s not a geek, what is “Web 2.0”?

Well according to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia…

“[T]he phrase Web 2.0 can refer to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies [collaborative tagging schemes] — which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users. The term gained currency following the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs. According to Tim O’Reilly, ‘Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.’ Some technology experts, notably Tim Berners-Lee, have questioned whether one can use the term in a meaningful way, since many of the technology components of ‘Web 2.0’ have existed since the early days of the W!

There is no doubt the www has advanced significantly since inception, but there really is no new version of the www. It is simply much more useful to the everyday person.

However, if we counted each major innovation as a whole number and each minor revision as a tenth, we would already be into double digits. So why are we calling it “Web 2.0”?

If you have seen the latest Die Hard movie, or ever bought software for your computer, you will understand why we are not in Web 2.0. Even if we call it Die Hard 4.0 or MS Office 2007, it’s still basically the same movie or tool. So what we are really experiencing now is more like Web 16.0.

If you have an in-depth, honest conversation with your web designers, they will tell you that Web 2.0 is a myth. So to explain how we got to Web 16.0, here’s a history of the most significant events on the www.

WEB 0.1 — 1958 – SAGE – Radar systems are first networked
WEB 0.2 — 1960 – Packet switching is first created

WEB 1.0 – EMAIL – “A New Way to Send Unsolicited Mail Is Born”

Although the exact history of Email is a tad murky, it is generally accepted that it appeared in 1965, and was created so that people accessing a mainframe could communicate with each other. This was the first step in the interconnection of people, facilitating almost instant communication at no cost to the user.

WEB 1.1 — 1967 – Markup language is created
WEB 1.2 — 1969 – ARPA – A link is established between computers
WEB 1.3 — 1696 – ARPA Net – First packet-switched network created

WEB 2.0 – WYSIWYG – “What You See Is What You Get (sometimes)”

With the invention of WYSIWYG in 1970, users could now be presented with a basic display of what their finished product would look like, as they were working on it. This removed the need to memorize complex code.

WEB 2.1 — 1970 – ASP – First Application Service Provider (SAAS)
WEB 2.2 — 1970 – Style sheets are created
WEB 2.3 — 1971 – @ is created to separate hosts and users
WEB 2.4 — 1973 – TCP/IP is created to simplify networking
WEB 2.5 — 1973 – First connection to another country established
WEB 2.6 — 1974 – The term “Internet” is adopted
WEB 2.7 — 1976 – X.25 – The first network standard is approved
WEB 2.8 — 1978 – International packet switching service created

WEB 3.0 – USENET– “The Black Market of the Internet”

Usenet was established in 1980 to offer mail and file transfers as well as give personal users access to news. Usenet is in fact a large network of servers all in communication with each other; a user posts something to the local server and that item is passed along to the other servers. Usenet was a major turning point because users could finally have an open conversation with anyone on the net, without needing to specifically know the user (unlike Email). The downside is that with a sometimes un-policed net capable of file transfers, the Usenet of today is a haven for piracy of all types, where anything you can imagine is accessible.

WEB 3.1 — 1979 – Email is made available to personal computer users, millions of Nigerian Princes suddenly need public help

WEB 4.0 – REAL TIME CHAT – Going Outside Deemed “Obsolete”

Real-Time Chat was created in 1980 following users’ frustrations with Usenet articles sometimes taking 24 hours to be updated. This signaled a turning point: online conversations became instant, albeit isolated into segregated groups.

WEB 4.1 — 1980 – First ISPs created providing dialup internet
WEB 4.2 — 1981 – TCP/IP becomes a standard
WEB 4.3 — 1981 – US/Europe/Canada/Hong-Kong/Australia connect
WEB 4.4 — 1983 – TCP/IP becomes the only standard
WEB 4.5 — 1983 – First wide area network using TCP/IP operational
WEB 4.6 — 1985 – FTP – The File Transfer Protocol is created
WEB 4.7 — 1988 – IRC – Internet Relay Chat is created
WEB 4.8 — 1988 – Bulletin Board Systems and Forums created

WEB 5.0 – HTML/HTTP/Web Pages – “It Has Begun…”

Around 1980, many researchers were using the internet, but they had no single way to create/display “documents” (web pages). Physicist Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues needed a simple system for creating/displaying documents, but found that existing systems were too commercial, platform-specific or complicated for the average user. So they created their own relatively simple system, consisting of browsing software called “WorldWideWeb,” a protocol for transmitting the information (HTTP) and a document annotation convention called “Hyper Text Markup Language” (HTML). This meant anyone could now create web pages using their simple language.

WEB 5.1 — 1989 – Images can now be animated, oh the horror!
WEB 5.2 — 1990 – The network now covers the entire world (publicly)

WEB 6.0 – Search – “Did You Mean: Google?”

Before 1990, there was no way to find a page; you had to know the specific location. Around 1991, search engines began indexing (storing) the content they found, giving users the ability to search for a page even if they didn’t know the page’s location.

WEB 6.1 — 1991 – DNS – Dynamic Naming System is created
WEB 6.2 — 1991 – The first text-based browser is created

WEB 7.0 – DHTML – “Because Non-Scrolling Text Is Boring”

The web was static until Dynamic HTML (DHTML) was created. DHTML introduced client-side scripting, allowing authors to include code in their web pages that performed an action upon being downloaded onto a user’s computer. DHTML introduced rollover buttons and drop-down menus on web pages. It goes a long way to making the web more personalized.

WEB 7.1 — 1993 – The first graphics based browsers are created
WEB 7.2 — 1993 – Screen casts are first created
WEB 7.3 — 1994 – Wikis are created; Britannica begins holding its breath
WEB 7.4 — 1994 – The World Wide Web Consortium is formed
WEB 7.5 — 1994 – CSS – Cascading Style Sheets created

WEB 8.0 – ONLINE DIARIES – “Teens Reportedly Misunderstood”

Online diaries were first created in 1994 as a means for people to store their diaries online for personal or public reading. Writers could now reach almost anyone worldwide at practically no cost, and everyone could create editorials on whatever subjects they liked, without fear of censorship.

WEB 8.1 — 1996 – The first social bookmarking site created

WEB 9.0 – RANKED RESULTS – “The Online Popularity Contest”

Search engine results helped find things, but many of the results were useless or had nothing to do with the keywords used. As of 1996, search results started to be ranked based on a multitude of things, like how popular a page is. This made searching faster and easier, and significantly less painful.

WEB 9.1 — 1996 – Flash is created, whole websites can now be animated
WEB 9.2 — 1997 – The term “Blog” is adopted

WEB 10.0 – HIRED BLOGGERS – “Wow Isn’t Product X Great!”

As of 1997, personal diaries began to evolve to what became known as “blogs.” Many corporate websites and personal homepages had (and still do have) news sections, these were traditionally updated manually in a back-end system. With the advent of blogs, the commercial sector jumped in, seeing a new marketing medium.

WEB 10.1 — 1998 – The first audio news site is created
WEB 10.2 — 1999 – The first web-based operating system is created

WEB 11.0 – RSS – “Newspapers Deemed Obsolete”

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) was created due to the lack of a universal feed format. The creation of RSS means that users could now “subscribe” to feeds containing video, audio, text, or graphics. Users no longer had to trawl the web for new information, they could “subscribe” to a feed and have it sent to them directly.

WEB 12.0 – REMOTE SCRIPTING – “Waiting For 4 Seconds Now History!”

Remote scripting allows scripts running inside a browser to exchange information with a server, so that scripts could be triggered locally, processed remotely and have information returned directly to the browser. This made the web faster and easier to use, and removed the need to refresh the page for simple tasks like sorting.

WEB 12.1 — 2001 – Blogs evolve from online diaries

WEB 13.0 – PODCASTING – “Now Everyone Can Avoid Listening To You By Choice Rather Than Circumstance!”

Podcasting originated as a portmanteau of the iPod® and broadcasting, although “portable on demand broadcasting” has now become the widely-accepted definition. Originally Podcasting was created to allow individuals to distribute their own radio shows, but it has become popular for a wide variety of things, from educational materials to the latest gaming news. Podcasting opens up distribution of audio content to anyone with a server, with users “subscribing” to the RSS feeds that appeal to them.

WEB 13.1 — 2002 – Folksonomy is created, giving rise to “tags”

WEB 14.0 – VIDEO PODCASTING – “Web-Based One-Sided Conversations”

Shortly after Podcasting became popular, video Podcasting was created as a means to send the equivalent of TV episodes to users. Though similar to podcasting, the content was not limited to just “TV episodes”. Video Podcasting opens up the video medium so that making a TV show is possible for anyone.

WEB 15.0 – VOIP – “High Tech, Dodgy Sounding Free Calls”

With the Voice Over Internet Protocol, telephone audio is sent over the internet, rather than a traditional phone line. This removes almost all cost involved, and also removes the need to have a physical phone line. What this means for consumers is calling becomes much simpler, easier and significantly cheaper.

WEB 16.0 – SAAS – “The Industry Makes a SaaS of Itself.”

Software as a Service (SaaS) is just a new term for a concept that has been around since the dawn of the internet (ASP from 1970). SaaS refers to using a piece of software run/provided through the internet, and instead of paying a large one-off purchase price, you “rent” the software for as long as needed. So while SaaS is the buzzword of the day, the concept is decades old.


So if you follow the basic rule that each total upgrade is a new “.0” then we are nowhere near Web 2.0. The story is really one of falling price, increasing reliability and bandwidth, coupled with ubiquitous access.

Simply put, “Web 2.0” is just shorthand for the development process outlined above. Bottom line, the web really becoming what the web really always should have been.

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