Home Defining Web 2.0: the community way

Defining Web 2.0: the community way

Doc Searls grabs the Web
2.0 meme
by the horns and gives it a good shake. He’s posted a thought-provoking piece in which he frames
Web 2.0 in the following way:

“I propose a goal: Make Web 2.0 the best possible commons for supporting free
markets and free culture.”

I’m glad Doc has weighed in on the ongoing debate about what Web 2.0 is. So far we’ve
had mainly techies and business folks pecking away at the definition, but it hasn’t really been
approached from a ‘social commons’ point of view. And who better to do that than Doc

Doc wrote his post in response to one by Martin at
, who is creating a “a cumulative Web 2.0 definition” which he says is:

“Mainly based on the proto-definition work of
richard mcmanus’ writereadweb, still the most imprtant resource for Web 2.0. The wikipedia-entry is also valuable, despite being

Very nice of you to say so Martin, thank you!

btw the ‘Web as platform’ definition is a bit misunderstood, by some people who say –
well, Web 1.0 was a platform too. So let me try and clarify a little. When I say Web 2.0
= ‘Web as platform’ – I’m referring to shared infrastructure and standards such as RSS,
XML, API’s, structured microcontent, read/write web tools like blogging and podcasting,
web services, etc. None of that was around in a usable state in the first edition of the
Web (in the 90’s). You could put up a static or interactive website, do e-commerce
transactions, participate in message boards and so forth. But you couldn’t build on
of any of that… it wasn’t a true platform. So when I use the word
‘platform’, I mean it must provide an infrastructure – and a network – for people to
build on top of it. Build what? Communities, collaboration, communication, and (yes,
don’t forget) commerce.

Perhaps ‘Web as OS’ is a more accurate description, but I prefer to use the word
‘platform’ because it’s not as techie and it can be expanded upon much better – e.g. as a
business term, or to explain how for journalists the Web can be a platform for new
news media. It’s not as effective to say “the Web is an OS” to non-geeks…

Anyway, I’m very glad to see the definition of Web 2.0 being discussed openly and
from all sorts of angles. The Wikipedia definition is still a (disputed) work in
progress, but that’s OK. This is what we have weblogs and wikis for – to thrash out
concepts in public and build on them 😉

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