Web 2.0 – What It Really Is

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Web 2.0 has been a buzz word for some time now. But what is it? Why should you care? And can it really make you more profitable?

In this post, we’ll explore the concept of Web 2.0 on the Internet as a whole. In an upcoming post, we’ll help you make realistic application of these ideas in your own business.


While certain visual styles and technical innovations have accompanied the movement, at its core Web 2.0 is an idea, not a thing. As the name suggests, the concept is a new approach to the Internet. This has changed how the Internet is presented and utilized both for personal and business purposes. Web 2.0 is defined as a trend “that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users.” (Wikipedia)

A key tenant: participation

Rather than using the Internet as a passive distribution channel, Web 2.0 encourages user interaction like never before. Web sites which are comprised (sometimes entirely) of user-generated content are at the hub of this concept. Examples of such sites are Wikipedia, YouTube, eBay and Flickr.

In this sense, Web 2.0 reflects a return to the original purpose of the Internet. Creators envisioned a communication channel which would be controlled by the user, not the corporations. The information was to be free, unlimited, uncensored, creating a global community for the equal use and betterment of all. In the ’90s, when less people had access to or were comfortable using the Internet, this was a difficult goal to reach. The dot com crash prompted a decrease in overall investment, with many people losing hope in the value and profitability of the Internet. But by 2004, when the term Web 2.0 became notable, the world proved it was ready.

The rise of the social site

This atmosphere of participation has spawned an endless sea of socially-based Web sites. For example, a social networking service is one where people who are interested in a specific topic can come together in a virtual community within which they can share information. Contributing entries are usually personal or niche-topical in nature, as seen on MySpace and Facebook. On Ning.com, you can even start your own social network on any topic.

On social bookmarking sites, users can save, organize and share links to information they’ve found on the Internet. An example of this is Digg.com, where users can vote for (or ‘digg’) an article or link that they feel is useful, increasingly making the most popular or useful links rise to the top of the list.

Unique business models

Web 2.0 saw the birth of the “freemium”, whereby Web-based businesses offer basic services for free, while charging a premium for advanced or special features.

A plethora of other Web-based businesses offer genuinely free services. But if they don’t really “sell” anything, how do these make money on the Internet? Many companies who offer free services use advertising to generate income, much like television programming uses commercials. Additional income sources include product placement, referral or affiliate programs with other companies, or indirectly generating income for the site’s founders through avenues like book deals, speaking tours, or cross-promotion of their other business ventures. In this way, even well-written personal blogs have become profitable.

How can Web 2.0 help me?

In many communities, business may largely be done the way it has been for years. You may have a physical location, an actual product, and so on. But by adjusting your approach a little, you can still capitalize on the current Internet atmosphere to make your own Web site more effective. Watch out for our upcoming post to learn how.

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4 Comments on “Web 2.0 – What It Really Is”

  1. Mie says:


  2. Nathanael says:


    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the article.

  3. Francis Mukobi says:

    Wow!! I have been looking for this kind of explanation for a long time. Thanks amillion.

    Perharps in your next article you could show me how to develop a web 2.0 website.


  4. Nathanael says:

    Thanks for the suggestion Francis!

    Please see our recent post 5 Web 2.0 Strategies You Can Use Right Now for additional useful information about Web 2.0

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