Web 2.0 is the common term used to refer to the new generation of web applications and systems that enable community or many-to-many relationships. BusinessWeek has a recent article that summarizes many of the converging and diverging factors influencing this next phase of the Web:
Indeed, peer production represents a sea change in the economy — at least when it comes to the information products, services, and content that increasingly drive economic growth. More than two centuries ago, James Watt’s steam engine ushered in the Industrial Revolution, centralizing the means of production in huge, powerful corporations that had the capital to achieve economies of scale. Now cheap computers and new social software and services — along with the Internet’s ubiquitous communications that make it easy to pool those capital investments — are starting to give production power back to the people. Says Benkler
[Yale professor]: "This departs radically from everything we’ve seen since the Industrial Revolution."
Commerce is changing as a result of this new business platform, with successful examples such as e-Bay and more recently Skype. The graphic provided in the article is a good visual of the change from the Web 1.0 to 2.0, with Web 2.0 described as:
Many-to-Many: File-sharing, blogs and social networking services are connecting masses of people simultaneously. Their collective efforts are spawning new services including online encyclopedia Wikipedia and free netphone network Skype.
For an ongoing discussion of Web 2.0, including its influence on higher education, go to What’s Web 2.0? which is run by Will Pate.