Tim O'Reilly has posted What Is Web 2.0? : Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software which further convinced me that the definition of Web 2.0 used by Tim O'Reilly and his ilk may be too wide to be useful. In the conclusion of his article he writes
Core Competencies of Web 2.0 Companies
In exploring the seven principles above, we've highlighted some of the principal features of Web 2.0. Each of the examples we've explored demonstrates one or more of those key principles, but may miss others. Let's close, therefore, by summarizing what we believe to be the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies:
- Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
- Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
- Trusting users as co-developers
- Harnessing collective intelligence
- Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
- Software above the level of a single device
- Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models
The next time a company claims that it's "Web 2.0," test their features against the list above.
The list seems redundant in some places and could probably be reduced to 3 points. Half the bullet points all seem to say that the company should expose Web services [in this context I mean services over the Web whether they be SOAP, REST, POX/HTTP, RSS, etc]. So that's point number one. The second key idea seems to be that of harnessing collective intelligence such as with Amazon's recommendation engine, Wikipedia entries and folksonomies/tagging systems. The final key concept is that Web 2.0 companies leverage the long tail. One example of the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 when it comes to harnessing the long tail is the difference between http://www.msn.com which is a portal that has news and information of general interest that aims at appealing to broad audiences (one size fits all) and http://www.start.com which encourages people to build their own portal that fits their needs (every niche is king).
So let's review. Tim O'Reilly's essay can be reduced to the following litmus test for whether an offering is Web 2.0 or not
Exposes Web services that can be accessed on any device or platform by any developer or user. RSS feeds, RESTful APIs and SOAP APIs are all examples of Web services.
Harnesses the collective
intelligence knowledge of its user base to benefit users
Leverages the long tail through customer self-service
So using either Tim O'Reilly's list or mine, I'd be curious to see how many people think http://www.myspace.com is a Web 2.0 offerings or not. If not, why not? If so, please tell me why you think all the folks who've called MySpace a Web 2.0 offering are wrong in my comments. For the record, I think it isn't but would like to compare my reasons with those of other people out there.