Web 2.0 is one of the biggest buzzwords circulating on the web at the moment. If you don’t know what this term means, don’t fret because you are not alone. Just Google it and you’ll find pages like:

Web 2.0 – are you ready?

O’Reilly — What is Web 2.0

Web 2.0 – Does “Web 2.0” mean anything?

Do You Speak Web 2.0

More than that, Google returns 15,000,000 pages on the subject of ‘Web 2.0’, apparently there is something to this buzzword and it’s not something that just happened overnight.

The fact is, Web 2.0 has been around for years (eons in Internet terms) and has been operating right under our noses. The term was popularised by Tim O’Reilly at the Web 2.0 web conference in 2004. At the conference, Web 2.0 referred to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and services. Web 2.0 was not one thing, it was a set of similar characteristics and perhaps today it’s a shared culture or an ideal more than anything else.

A simplified way of looking at Web 2.0, is to think of it as everything that the Internet was pre-2004 (Web 1.0), but now with all the bugs ironed out. Let’s face it, today’s Internet not only looks more attractive but it sounds better too; it’s faster and the improved levels of interactivity make it a far more engaging experience; security for online shopping has proven itself as safe and works as it’s supposed to; websites and content delivery systems now work across more platforms than ever before; and for the most part the Internet runs pretty smoothly which makes it an enjoyable experience.

Here are a few practical examples of the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, so you can see what I’m talking about:

AltaVista vs. Google
Hotmail vs. Yahoo Mail (and more recently Windows Live Hotmail)
Mp3.com vs. iTunes
MapQuest vs. GoogleMapsNetscape vs. Firefox
ICQ vs. Skype
Geocities vs. Facebook

Few would argue that these Web 2.0 upgrades are positive steps in the right direction, but perhaps this has more to do with the progression of the technology and of the industry, that it’s simply a move towards best practice rather than a results of this one buzzword. It will be interesting to see how the definition of the term Web 2.0 evolves over time.

You might be asking what implications Web 2.0 will have on marketing and business … well that’s a discussion for another day.

If you’re still confused! The key thing to understand here is that Web 2.0 is like Web 1.0, only better.