Being a geek by trade (and at heart) I found this article – O’Reilly: What Is Web 2.0 – quite interesting. I’ve been around through the entire life of the web. I used to “surf” on the old Buffalo FreeNet, which would connect you with other FreeNets around the country. Images were uuencoded into thousands of lines of text, would scroll right into your buffer which you’d save, then uudecode before you could finally see the low quality, 256-color picture. They had things like SIGs (Special Interest Groups) and USENET which were the precursors to today’s web forums. There were BBSes that you had to dial into directly, and hella cool ones that even had multiple phone lines where you could real-time chat with the one to maybe even three other users that would be dialed in when you were.
The web really got it’s feet in the mid 90s, when I had just started college. You had to dial into your special “PPP” connection, fire up the old Winsock client, and use the first of the Netscape browsers to see the birth of the graphical web – complete with spinning email graphics, divider lines spanning all themes, and more horribly unreadable color combinations than you could imagine. If you’ve read the Punaro.com History you’ll know that this site was born in that era.
By 1999 when I was out of college, the web was in full swing. The “dotcom” age was alive and companies were scrambling to hire anyone that could design a web page. You could buy things through a web page and they’d arrive at your door. Shopping would never be the same again. Personal web pages were everywhere. Search engines would track down any bit of information that you asked it to. It seemed like a whole new world was being created in parallel to the physical one.
The O’Reilly article is saying that we’ve essentially reached the second period in the history of the web. It may seem to be a bit early in it’s life to be doing that, but we are talking about computing here, and it’s history is written just as fast as it progresses. We’re beginning to move beyond the web as a publishing medium, and into the web as a collaborative medium. Static web sites are a thing of the past. Blogs are the way of the present. The feedback of the people reading a site will become just as important as the information on the site. Proprietary software will finally give way to open source software, because companies will [slowly] realize that interoperability and extensibility are what makes a piece of software good, not the tightly controlled codebase that’s whiz-bang when it comes out, but takes five years to be revised.
I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to technolgoy, I’m not an innovator. Most of the time I don’t even feel like I fall into the early adopter category, though many people would probably say I do. I think that’s come from my frustration with dealing with so much technology that’s supposed to make our lives easier, but just isn’t quite there yet (like home automation).
I saw that there was something especial about blogging and the community that surrounds it before I read the article, even though I didn’t completely understand what it was. I don’t like “jumping on the bandwagon” and doing things just because everyone else is doing them. But now I understand precisely why I felt compelled to leave behind the technology I was so comfortable and familiar with and go the way of the blog. This is Web 2.0.