Posted by Nicholas
Web 2.0 is a term coined in recent years that describes the changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aim to enhance creativity, information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and social indexes.
Web 2.0 websites are typically known for the use of CSS, Folksonomies (social tagging, classification, and indexing), Microformats, REST/XML/JSON-based APIs, rich internet applications such as Ajax, Flex, or Flash, semantically valid XHTML and HTML, RSS/Atom syndication and aggregation, weblog-publishing tools, wiki or forum software, and the extended use of internet privacy and content management. Below is a list of the top 15 websites that have been influential in establishing these methods of functionality on the web.
Google has been a rising star for the past decade now, and is officially the largest American corporation not a part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The original site started out as a simple search engine, eventually becoming a wide network of sites and services that include Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Talk, Google Desktop, AdWords, Analytics, Picasa, and Google Earth, among others. As a testament to the company’s popularity, the word “Google” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a verb in 2006, meaning “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the internet.” Google’s “iGoogle” variant site has shown to be a comparable staple on the 2.0 scene.
With the advent of modern Web 2.0 content, one of the first forms of media to become the cornerstone of user-generated communities was photos. With the popularity of blogging, people began to not only want to share their experiences in text form, but in photo form as well. Hence, this form of visual expression became a popular aspect of the internet. Flickr introduced the ability to upload and share your photos with the world and receive feedback.
In the natural order of technological evolution, there is always a “new” website that debuts as an advancement over an existing one. For MySpace, that natural evolution was Facebook. In recent years MySpace has become a breeding ground for social abuse, including stalking, child predation, sexuality, and other forms of depravity, including the overuse of cutesy sparkling animated GIFs. What Facebook offered was a straight-forward, minimalistic, accessible social network that cleaned up where MySpace had made a mess. With it’s heightened privacy protocols and lack of profile clutter, Facebook quickly became a popular utility for social networking.
Speaking of MySpace… Rising from the popularity of other social networks like Melodramatic, LiveJournal, and Friendster, MySpace rose to prominence as the premier social network of the 21st century. It offered a bevy of new features and functionality that made it unique, including the ability to embed HTML code directly into your profile in order to customize it to your preferences. Eventually adding additional content such as Music, Videos, Personals, Forums, and Games, MySpace soon became a hub of community-generated content and activity. Like I said in number 3, Facebook, of course, was the natural evolution of the social networking craze started by MySpace.
As a natural progression, the next form of media to find it’s place on the internet was video. Following in the footsteps of Flickr, YouTube offered users the ability to upload videos to the internet and share them with other users. You could even copy and paste the embed code into your website, such as a MySpace profile, which helped to also promote the customization of social networking systems.
Today, Blogger is a part of the Google network of websites, but that wasn’t always the case. Blogger started out in 1999 as an early self-publishing blog utility, which, at the time, had little commercial application. However, with a brand new tool for creative expression now available to the public, Blogger took off like a rocket. With millions of blogs and a new one created every minute, Blogger is no doubt the trailblazer of the modern blogosphere.
Wordpress, another self-publishing blog utility, is to the open source market what Blogger was to online hosted applications. Feeding off of the popularity of the blogosphere as perpetuated by services like Blogger, LiveJournal and Moveable Type, WordPress was introduced as a standalone package of files that could be installed onto a server by the FTP savvy and configured as a personal blog and website. With a recent rise of DIY-web designers and bloggers, this seemed like the next logical step for internet users who are becoming more adept at content management. With it’s simplicity, usability, and Web 2.0 functionality, WordPress hit Legendary status in no time.
Nothing exemplifies “user-generated content” more than Wikipedia. As the encyclopedia anyone can edit, Wikipedia is a vast collection of information submitted, edited, and validated by the user. As quite possibly the world’s largest collaborative effort, the site boasts more than 900,000 unique visits per day and is one of the most frequently referenced sites on the internet.
Yahoo was one of the earlier frontrunners in the search engine game. They established themselves as a mighty force on the internet before Google had become the powerhouse it is today. However, credit is due to Yahoo as they pioneered the universal internet hub format that is commonly seen on sites such as MSN and iGoogle.
With so many blogs and news sites and online videos and other resources, wouldn’t it be nice if there was one place where we could have access to all of the content on the internet at once? Well, there is, and that place is Digg. So many websites offer up some form of content online, and with the widespread use of RSS feeds, it is easier than ever to create an automated hub to provide access to these sites. Users are able to submit links to the site for other users to view, and depending on the popularity of the link, it will either become accessible to even more users are disappear into obscurity. User-generated content has never been easier to share.
Without a doubt, the music-sharing revolution of the 21st century was initiated by the debut of the original Napster. It introduced users to the internet music trade and showed the world just how integral the internet is, and can be, to the music industry. Napster was obviously shut down, but it’s spirit lives on in the form of sites like iLike. iLike is a social networking site centered around music that epitomizes the idea of user-generated/maintained/organized content. Users can sample and download songs from upcoming as well as already established artists. iLike stands apart from the rest of the music sites because of its unique Web 2.0 functionality. Not only is it a standalone website, but it also has a Facebook app, an iTunes plugin, and other site/app addons that allow users to constantly stay connected with the world through music.
The internet opened many doors, but none as profitable as online stores. Amazon represents an entire niche of websites in the genre of eCommerce. Internet sales have skyrocketed since the advent of online purchases, and have even become comparable to live sales in stores. Amazon is an arena of user-generated content and accessibility that gives people the ability to buy just about anything they want from one of the biggest commercial markets in the world.
Started out in 1995, eBay was Web 2.0 before the term “Web 2.0″ even existed. EBay introduced online auctions to the internet in a way that nobody had ever seen, and it caught on like wildfire. Today, the site boasts nearly 170 million users and is currently the premier auction site in the world. Since eBay also owns PayPal and Skype, you can consider this a triple threat.
Twitter is a social network that takes the focus away from bulky profiles and side-features and provides an emphasized use of the communication qualities of modern networks. As a tool for trading “comments,” Twitter allows you to maintain flowing conversations and stay in touch with friends and random users.
15. Creative Commons
With the rise of user-generated content on the internet, it’s only natural that users would want to protect that content so as to prevent intellectual theft. Creative Commons provides just that. With many Web 2.0 elements in itself, CC allows users to claim “some rights reserved” for their projects and content. In an environment where legal copyrights often do not apply, it is refreshing to have an element of “Web 2.0 Protection” on the internet.