The Life and Death of Web 2.0

By July 15, 2010 No Comments

Edublogger Adam Bellow held a memorial service for the term “Web 2.0” at the 2010 ISTE Conference as part of his session titled eduTecher’s 10 Web Tools To Make Your Classroom Rock.  In support of his effort to “bury the term once and for all,” Adam contributed this guest post to summarize his ISTE presentation for our readers.

An Abridged History of “Web 2.0”

The term “Web 2.0” was first coined in 1999, more than ten years ago.  A lot has happened since then.  For instance, we were introduced to a little Web company named “Google.”  To think of it another way – “Web 2.0” was coined before the first iPod was introduced.  However, while the term was first kicked around in 1999, it wasn’t until 2003-04 that “Web 2.0” took on its current meaning and gained popularity.

When originally coined, the term meant something because the predominant number of websites simply informed.  Company Web pages, and basic information tools such as dictionaries and reference sites, provided data and static information with minimal user interaction (social or otherwise).  These “read-only” websites came to be known by the moniker “Web 1.0.”

In the beginning, “Web 2.0” was cool.  It was the new buzzword.  Unfortunately, it’s still lingering with us today.  The “2.0” signified that there was a distinct and definable difference between new interactive websites and those that came before.  That’s fine.  Initially this idea makes sense.  For a few months, or even a year, we can have a shiny new name to define a changing medium.

But today’s Web is almost entirely interactive or social in some way.  Why continue to use a term that distinguishes itself from the predecessor if the predecessor no longer needs to be differentiated from (see example of “Coke II” or “New Coke).  Most of the static sites from years ago now offer a degree of social interaction – at the very least you can add comments or share content.

The Web has evolved.  The medium is still very much the same, but its use has changed.  It’s meaningless to call it “Web 2.0” to designate it as different if the term doesn’t explain what the difference is (see example of “Cave-People” versus People).

Well, We Have to Call it Something…

If not “Web 2.0,” then what?  To find out Adam’s suggestion, see the full-length version of The Life and Death of “Web 2.0” available through Scribd.

For more from Adam, view this Visibility Matters blog post: “The Tech Commandments.”

Adam Bellow is the director of educational technology for the College Board Schools.  In addition, he is founder and president of eduTecher, a free website that helps educators integrate technology effectively into the classroom.  eduTecher offers links to hundreds of web tools and sites, and provides information on how these tools may be used in the classroom.  A free eduTecher iPhone application is available for download as well.