You've probably heard the phrase "Web 2.0". You may've even read some of the various definitions of it. And Web 2.0 does appear to mean different things to different people, so you would be forgiven for still feeling confused about the term. Here are some of the definitions of Web 2.0 floating about:
Web 2.0 = the web as platform
Web 2.0 = the underlying philosophy of relinquishing control
Web 2.0 = glocalization ("making global information available to local social contexts and giving people the flexibility to find, organize, share and create information in a locally meaningful fashion that is globally accessible")
Web 2.0 = an attitude not a technology
Web 2.0 = when data, interface and metadata no longer need to go hand in hand
Web 2.0 = action-at-a-distance interactions and ad hoc integration
Web 2.0 = power and control via APIs
Web 2.0 = giving up control and setting the data free
While at first glance some of those definitions may be contradictory, we can distill from them certain characteristics of Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is social, it's open (or at least it should be), it's letting go of control over your data, it's mixing the global with the local. Web 2.0 is about new interfaces - new ways of searching and accessing Web content. And last but not least, Web 2.0 is a platform - and not just for developers to create web applications like Gmail and Flickr. The Web is a platform to build on for educators, media, politics, community, for virtually everyone in fact!
Web 2.0 is all of the above things - don't let anyone tell you it's one or the other definition.
Take a look at what the education community is doing with the Web, for example. They are not only starting to use the tools of Web 2.0 - blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. They're also adapting to a new generation of kids who are growing up on the Web, the so-called 'Digital Natives'. The challenge for educators now and for the future is to learn and teach Internet literacy, converse and collaborate with their students using Web tools, and help our children make sense of the huge amounts of information and media that surround us.
Web 2.0 is about the people, when it comes down to it. So it has to be inclusive. The definitions of technologists, social scientists, web designers, philosophers, educators, business people, anybody - they all count.