Greetings Everyone, I am currently completing a course for my Masters of Education entitled Computer Based Resources in Education, and was recently reading a very interesting article by Tim O'Reilly on the subject of defining the differences between the original web and it's supposed new incarnation, Web 2.0. ("What is Web 2.0:Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software", published on O' I had heard the term before, but was not really sure what it meant. As an exercise in summarization and indeed simply to clarify the ideas presented in my own mind, I propose to briefly discuss the seven main points presented by Mr. O'Reilly in order to benefit whoever, like myself, was still a little fuzzy on the concepts. 1. The Long Tail O'Reilly points out how small, independently run sites make up the vast bulk of the content present online, and that the trend can only increase. While there will always be sites of iconic power and scale, the fact remains that revenue is the driving force behind the growth of cyberspace, and in order maximize revenue, future sites should "leverage customer self service and algorithmic data to reach out to the entire web". 2. Data is Key Possessing databases will be at the forefront of the next generation of successful sites. The more a site can control data of a specialized nature that would be difficult to imitate or compile by competitors will provide a clear competitive edge attractive to customers and advertisers. 3. Adding Value Through Usage While a definite framework is required to start off, it is advantageous that users be able to contribute to the evolution of a site. The more users are able to add features, applications and their own data to an existing site, the more the site in question becomes attractive, user friendly, popular and replete with additional data, all at little or no cost. 4. Automatic Data Collection The more a business knows about it's customers, the better it can serve their needs. However, very few people actually contribute voluntarily. Therefore, 2.0 sites should automatically register user information as a consequence of usage. 5. "Remixability" While certain kinds of information are profitable only if protected by copyright and ownership, a large amount of data and applications will better serve their sites if the user feels he or she can modify, personalize and improve upon what they are offered. Use as unobtrusive a license for content as possible, and provide ample room for the user to shape their experience according to personal preference. 6. Continual Evolution Instead of periodic updates with many new features all at once, it is a far superior strategy to be continuously adding features enabling users to experiment continuously. In this way, the user is both guinea pig and developer, as real time customer feed backs enables a site to improve successful features and either improve, rethink or remove unpopular ones. 7. Cooperation The future of the Web involves sites who will be able to easily combine their systems and services with other sites in order to offer the most user-friendly experience possible. The more a site will try to dictate which partners must be viewed or utilized to access their information, the less it shall be effective in wooing customers who all have their individual preferences. While I fully realize that this has been a VERY brief summary of O'Reilly's points, I hope it has been of some help to those of you like myself who are still a little weary of all the hype, and simply want a working grasp of the concepts. And of course, I highly recommend all read the article for a much more in-depth look at the phenomenon. Jeremy N. Guerin

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