Top 10 ways to spot a Web 2.0 site

In trying to explain Web 2.0 to work colleagues and explaining why it’s different from Web 1.0, I’ve created this easy to use “spotters” guide of features based on the reading and research I’ve been doing. It’s a bit tounge in cheek (not your usual list of “Ajax”, “Wiki” and “RSS”) but you might enjoy it.

  1. Glitz and glamour, every Web 2.0 site thinks it’s the next big thing. Exception to rule 1 are sites that already KNOW they are a big thing (see as good example of a pretty ugly site that does a lot of good web 2.0 things in a visually unappealing way).
  2. Visually compelling, with desktop type features on the browser. Ajax enabled will often appear in this context. If you don’t get some kind of type ahead or dynamic lookup on the page, it’s not real Web 2.0.
  3. It’s all about the tribe and the community, who all appear to be living in a slightly off-kilter universe where somehow telling the world that you’re watching American Idol is big news, or that they can’t imagine that generations of businesses somehow survived without the ability to have a message transcribed by someone in India.
  4. It has a blog. All good Web 2.0 sites must have a blog. Only blogs are not blogs, they are part of the “blogosphere”, form a “conversation architecture” and make up the “attention economy”.
  5. 1st generation WEB 2.0 sites are mostly free, and it’s not always clear HOW they can be monetised. Late comers (read most sites launching in 2007) Web 2.0 let you try before you buy but over-charge for what they are really trying to provide. I like to refer to these as Web 2.0a sites and Web 2.0b.
  6. It’s a large scale, device agnostic message routing service stupid! Underneath the glitz and glamour of the latest tribal love-fest, is a cool piece of technology that many organisations could find a use for, but very few will buy.
  7. REpresentational State Transfer (REST). This is just the Architects way of describing loosely coupled services that don’t really know or care if you talk to them or not, but when you do, they give you information you can use in a format that you can understand and represent (the common example is getting a HTML page which you can represent as a graphically rich page in a browser or an RSS feed which can be re-constructed as news). It’s a lot easier to say REST, which says a lot about Architects too.
  8. Richard Scoble has written about it, commented on it, been quoted on it, or in some way used it. It’s not genuine Web 2.0 unless Scoble got there first (or maybe a close second).
  9. It’s a mash-up. Remember the old days when you used to write programs on your desktop, and call lots of different API’s which provided services that people had written? We don’t code anymore, we create mash-ups by writing programs in our browser that call lots of different services which provide information that people have written for us. It’s very different.
  10. It’s all about services and the winners will be those that control the data. Compelling services that offer net new implementations of features that people want and don’t have alternatives for will be some of the biggest winners and the outstanding examples of WEB 2.0.