Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Explaining Web 2.0 to Grandma

CI 5530 Class Definition
“Web 2.0 refers to the transition from static HTML web pages to the new web of collaboration. In the days of Web 1.0, the average internet user was consumer only. Information distribution went one way, from the internet 'gurus' to the user. With Web 2.0 users are both consumers and producers of information. Web 2.0 is any type of web application that allows user interaction, sharing, and collaboration to generate content. This user-generated content replaces the author-generated content of more traditional websites. Web 2.0 allows users to give more feedback to the author of the website. User participation, dynamic content and increased standardization enhance and enrich the user’s experience. This interactive and enterprising process allows all users of Web 2.0 to share knowledge efficiently and effectively at a higher rate of speed. It allows a voice to all people who have access to the internet and is not constrained by economics or political systems. Web 2.0 somewhat levels the playing field between all its participants and subtly blurs the line between creator and contributor.”
Conversation with Grandma
First let's review what Web 1.0 is before we talk about Web 2.0. Web 1.0 refers to your basic internet that works in similar fashion to a book. When you access the Internet and click from page to page you are in effect performing similar actions as if you were leafing through a book or magazine. You can view up and down the page by moving your scroll bar on the right side of the screen, and when you click on various sections of the page it takes you to another page as if you were turning the page. At each page you can read as much or as little as you like. If you prefer you can just look at the pictures.  Just like a book you check out from a library, you can't mark in it or make any changes. Web 1.0 will not allow you to make any changes either.  In the very simplest terms, Web 1.0 consists of text and pictures you can read and look at.
Web 2.0 on the other hand is more like a coloring book or even like a diary or journal. If you like you can keep a Journal on the Internet we'll call a Blog. Blog is short for Weblog.  Your Blog can be a Journal of your daily activities or it can be a listing of all your favorite recipes. What makes this interesting is that other people can view your blog and make comments on whatever material you have posted there.  There are other Web 2.0 locations where you can send your friends messages as though you are writing them a letter. You can also put pictures of your pets and grandchildren on your Internet location for your friends and relatives to see that you allow access to. They will make comments about how your grandchildren have grown and those will come to you in the form of a message. You will of course be able to do the same with all of your friends. This is called Social Networking. It basically helps us keep up with friends and family. Two of the most popular locations for social networking are called Facebook and MySpace.
There are other Web 2.0 activities that are perhaps more technical and purpose driven than what we have talked about to this point. There is a site called Wikipedia where virtually everything under the sun is defined or described. What makes it interesting is that the definition or description is provided by the readers of the site. In other words, the users of the material also have the opportunity to contribute to the information or knowledge base available online. So if you saw a particular subject online that was not described adequately or well, you could register yourself as an authority and provide a more robust description of the subject.  Now this expanded description is available to anyone in the world with a computer and Internet access.
In a nutshell what I have described is an Internet experience where you can contribute to what is online as well as view what is online. Social networking and maintaining a Blog allow you to stay in touch with friends and family and share pictures. You can share your thoughts and have a much closer interface than you can on the telephone. Web 2.0 allows you to have a two-way interface using the Internet whereas Web 1.0 is more one dimensional.

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