Web 2.0 is a term that has been around the computer industry for the past few years but what it actually is seems to still be somewhat illusive in nature. Web 2.0 is not a single technology but a set of technologies used in the design, development, creation and use of web pages that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users.
The technologies encompassed by Web 2.0 include, but are by no means limited to blogs, RSS, Wikis, rich Internet applications using Ajax, and mashups. The philosophy of Web 2.0 focuses on the idea that the people who access the Internet and use the Web should not just be passively involved in what they are doing but rather should be active contributors, helping customize media and technology for their own purposes, as well as those of their organizations.
Short for “Web logs, " blogs are online journals created by an individual or an organization and cover topics ranging from human rights to fashion, and everything in between. Blog postings, typically updated on a daily basis, can include images, photos, links, video, audio, or simple text. The postings are archived by date and sometimes by category or by author. Permanent links allow other bloggers and Web site owners to link directly to a specific post on a blog and encourage inter-blog dialog.
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds include the delivery of the latest headlines and updates from favorite Web sites to one's desktop without the need to visit the web site, open a browser or check email. It is a tool that is easy to set up with little cost. To start receiving feeds from one's favorite sites, the user downloads an aggregator, the software that delivers the content to the desktop. The RSS can then be customized to search for content on specific keywords or information, as well as content that is tailored to one's individual tastes.
A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses them to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language, like HTML. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and run community websites. For example, the encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best known and popular wikis. Wikis are used in businesses to provide affordable and effective intranets and in education for collaborative student projects and communication.
A mashup is a web application that combines data from many sources into a single integrated web page. A mashup web application consists of three parts: the data source, which can be any provider of information or content; the mashup web site itself which is the application that combines the data; and the web browser which is the end-user interface for the mashup.
Web 2.0 tools are important, but their impact goes much deeper than their novelty might suggest. Individuals and organizations alike are finding new and increasingly effective ways of connecting through Web 2.0 technologies from building movements for social, environmental, economic, and political change to increasing business through sales and marketing exposure.
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