Web 2.0 in business (part 1)

We recently had a workshop about Web 2.0 and the New World of Work. Which made me rethink Web 2.0 and what I know about it, but also it made me think about what possibilities Web 2.0 brings to business. Since I want to talk about a lot here, this will be a multipart post.

First I want to talk about the evolution of the web. It’s actually kind of funny when you try to map this to the progression a person makes when learning to transfer information in text.

When you first learn to write, you learn single words. You learn to use these words in sentences using some semantic rules. These allowed you to put your message down in a way someone else knew what you meant.When you got older you started using some other things when writing. If you wrote a note to someone you like (way back when you where young) you decorated the note with hearts and such.

Now that you are maturing (as if we ever fully grow up), you have to use writing the “correct” way, for example in business. You even learned to use certain markup within for example Microsoft Word to make sure you can automatically generate indexes and what have you.

This little jump to digital writing allows me to start this story over. But now it’s about the web.

A long, long time ago a man named Tim Berners-Lee (later to become Sir Tim Berners-Lee) thought about a way to put information into everybody’s reach. He found out a way to hyperlink content and create a place where all kinds of information could interlink their specific views on subjects. He thought up the World Wide Web…

He knew this information had to be guided into some form, he called the semantic web: all information on the web should be semantically correct to ensure the information could be read by humans and machines and all would be certain about the kind of information.

Then we started out with HTML 1.0, the HyperText Markup Language. This was great, because we could specify things about what we where writing. We could express importance with bold or italics and it was easy to do.

But then people (and their sites) wanted to start expressing themselves in more ways. They needed to become visually attractive to visitors.

All of a certain extensions and new revisions to HTML came in. Allowing people to change the font size within text and change the color. We all started to hate the blink tag…

Now it’s not bad to dress up your writing, but the way it was done by now was that it wasn’t semantically correct. Yes, the text was red, but it had no meaning other than being red.

Out of all this grew the “need” for CSS. Cascading Style Sheets made it possible to describe how some parts of a website or page had to be displayed. But in a way the information stayed semantically correct. So if you wanted bold text to be red, you could do that.

Mind you that these new technologies where all overseen by Tim Berners-Lee, as director of the W3C.

But Berners-Lee had envisioned more then just some correct text that could be interlinked. This is where we get to Web 2.0. It’s not about linking semi-random pieces of text, but about linking information and to know what each piece of information is about and how to handle it.

That’s my short (got a bit long I know) intro on Web 2.0. The next part will be about what Web 2.0 brings to people and then shifting that to what it can do for business.

Check out this introduction to Web 2.0 we saw during the workshop.

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