The list went on and on. But what was it that made us identify one application or approach as "Web 1.0" and another as "Web 2.0 "? (The question is particularly urgent because the Web 2.0 meme has become so widespread that companies are now pasting it on as a marketing buzzword, with no real understanding of just what it means. The question is particularly difficult because many of those buzzword-addicted startups are definitely not Web 2.0 Sites , while some of the applications we identified as Web 2.0, like Napster and BitTorrent, are not even properly web applications!) We began trying to tease out the principles that are demonstrated in one way or another by the success stories of web 1.0 and by the most interesting of the new applications.
1. The Web As Platform
Like many important concepts, Web 2.0 doesn't have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. You can as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from that core.
Figure 1 shows a "meme map" of Web 2.0 that was developed at a brainstorming session during FOO Camp, a conference at O'Reilly Media. It's very much a work in progress, but shows the many ideas that radiate out from the Web 2.0 core.
For example, at the first Web 2.0 conference, in October 2004, John Battelle and I listed a preliminary set of principles in our opening talk. The first of those principles was "The web as platform." Yet that was also a rallying cry of Web 1.0 darling Netscape, which went down in flames after a heated battle with Microsoft. What's more, two of our initial Web 1.0 exemplars, DoubleClick and Akamai, were both pioneers in treating the web as a platform. People don't often think of it as "web services", but in fact, ad serving was the first widely deployed web service, and the first widely deployed "mashup" (to use another term that has gained currency of late). Every banner ad is served as a seamless cooperation between two websites, delivering an integrated page to a reader on yet another computer. Akamai also treats the network as the platform, and at a deeper level of the stack, building a transparent caching and content delivery network that eases bandwidth congestion.
Nonetheless, these pioneers provided useful contrasts because later entrants have taken their solution to the same problem even further, understanding something deeper about the nature of the new platform. Both DoubleClick and Akamai were Web 2.0 pioneers, yet we can also see how it's possible to realize more of the possibilities by embracing additional Let's drill down for a moment into each of these three cases, teasing out some of the essential elements of difference.
Netscape vs. Google
If Netscape was the standard bearer for Web 1.0, Google is most certainly the standard bearer for Web 2.0, if only because their respective IPOs were defining events for each era. So let's start with a comparison of these two companies and their positioning.
Netscape framed "the web as platform" in terms of the old software paradigm: their flagship product was the web browser, a desktop application, and their strategy was to use their dominance in the browser market to establish a market for high-priced server products. Control over standards for displaying content and applications in the browser would, in theory, give Netscape the kind of market power enjoyed by Microsoft in the PC market. Much like the "horseless carriage" framed the automobile as an extension of the familiar, Netscape promoted a "webtop" to replace the desktop, and planned to populate that webtop with information updates and applets pushed to the webtop by information providers who would purchase Netscape servers.