Understanding some Web 2.0 fundamentals (with the help of Tim O’Reilly)

There’s a great conversation up on Fora.tv between Tim O’Reilly – the publishing guru who was at the forefront of coining and defining the term Web 2.0 – which we recommend to anyone who’s thinking about setting up a website. ¬†For those of you who are up to date with online trends and developments it may be retracing some old-ground, but in a useful ‘revision’ mode. For those of you who know nothing about what Web 2.0 may or may not be (and don’t be embarassed – you’re in the majority, outside of the web-developing community), this is a useful place to start.

The key distinction between web 1.0 and web 2.0 is simply a way of thinking – and it’s not necessarily an intuitive way of thinking, at least from a business sense. It is, according to O’Reilly, ‘not a new version – it was figuring out what worked about the web, and what didn’t‘. So, when you’re thinking about what type of site you want, it’s worth thinking with a different cap on, rather than the simple ‘I want to sell stuff on my site’ approach. Sure, that may be your ultimate goal (and Amazon, for example, is O’Reilly’s main example of a succesful Web 2.0 company), but your first thought should be ‘will that work well online?’.

And one of the best ways to do this is to look at your own online activity – using facebook, sending emails, how you search for information etc. Spend a week trying to be conscious of how you do things online, and with whom. Start taking notes of the things that you find useful/interesting online, and how that could fit in with your site.

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