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The Terrible Twos: Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and More

Magazine article Online

The Terrible Twos: Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and More

Article excerpt

Parents often describe the trials and tribulations of raising 2-year-olds as "the terrible twos." Movie sequels, although not called the terrible twos, rarely equal and even less frequently exceed version 1.0. So what is a searcher to make of the recent spate of sequels and twos on the Net? We have Web 2.0 and its offspring, and relatives such as News 2.0, Library 2.0, School Library 2.0, and 2.0 Culture. Do the sequels live up to their hype?

Typically, new software releases bear a version number such as 2.0. The version-numbered releases have new features and capabilities for one specific program. This is not the case with the latest round of 2.0s on the Web. They are a conglomeration of technologies, ideas, and approaches that, at least to some, represent a new way of interacting online. Their meanings are ambiguous and sometimes contradictory. In fact, one of the concepts of the 2.0 movement is being a movement away from new software releases.

Even though much of the 2.0 technologies are the playground for Web designers and programmers, knowing the terminology and sample sites allows the information professional to converse about the new trends and to find both useful sites and new capabilities to integrate into information products. Rather than debate the overall merits of the 2.0 movement, information professionals should explore the territory, techniques, and examples to find the most useful applications in your own work environment.

WEB 2.0

The beginnings of the 2.0 designations started with Web 2.0, a term coined by Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle, which was then promoted at O'Reilly's Web 2.0 conference in 2004. For the definitive overview see "What is Web 2.0" [www.snipurl.com/ictw], a lengthy essay that includes seven disparate points such as "The Web as Platform," "Harnessing Collective Intelligence," and "Rich User Experiences." Read the whole piece to understand why "there's still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom."

One of the seven points is that Web 2.0 means the "End of the Software Release Cycle" and yet the moniker of Web 2.0 imitates the versioning used in new software releases. So why call this whole concept Web 2.0? Whatever the reason, the phrase has stuck, and now 2.0 is expanding to other areas.

More concisely, the nebulous Web 2.0 concept represents a second wave of Web techniques to create more interactive and easy-to-use Web sites using new technologies (or using older technologies in a new way). Certain Web sites popular with the tech crowd are often used as Web 2.0 examples: del.icio.us, Flickr, Listible, Writely, Yahoo! Answers, Google Maps, Meebo, and Digg exemplify various aspects of Web 2.0. The technologies often used in connection with Web 2.0 include Ajax, blogs, APIs, clouds, CSS, RSS, social networking, tagging, and wikis.

Consider the Web 2.0 disparate group of ideas as a way of differentiating some of the current Web from that of the previous millennium. The 1990s Web included many social aspects and even used some Web 2.0 technologies, but the current crop of Web 2.0 sites combine those technologies in different ways. Specifically, Web 2.0 sites have much more interactivity, with the ability to easily edit and move objects.

AJAX

Ajax is one tool of choice for creating interactive pages with easily changeable components. Some commentators equate Web 2.0 with Ajax while others say that Ajax is only a part of Web 2.0. Its definition is a bit more straightforward than that of Web 2.0, since it is really an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, although the acronym in all uppercase is no longer common usage. It also involves more technologies than JavaScript and XML. As defined by the Mozilla Development Center [www.snipurl.com/ajaxdef], Ajax is an "approach to using a number of existing technologies together, including: HTML or XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets, JavaScript, The Document Object Model, XML, XSLT, and the XMLHttpRequest object. …

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