Understanding Web 2.0 - Six Categories

There are a lot of new MicroExplosion readers now from a few months ago so this post is a recap of something that has become a cornerstone of sorts for this blog. Back in August I posted the six categories of web 2.o. With my attention and focus on web 2.0 and subsequent attempts to explain it to people who are unfamiliar, I've come to realize that these six categories are about as good as anything out there (that I'm aware of) for getting a quick snapshot of what web 2.0 is (and isn't).

If you're interested in a lengthy explanation of web 2.0 you can find great information on Wikipedia's entry. My six categories were an attempt to synthesize a broad topic into something that's easy to remember for both explanation and application. In order to remember them I just think of a "massive Volkswagon" for the MASSVW acronym. Here are the categories:

  • Mashups - sites using existing technologies for an entirely new purpose like WikiMapia.org. It takes the functions of a wiki and overlays it with Google Maps for an entirely new kind of map. You can see ProgrammableWeb.com for more mashups.
  • Aggregators - A site or program that gathers data from multiple sources and organizes the information to present in a new, more streamlined or appropriate format. Digg.com is a top aggregator site. So is Slashdot for the more technical people. And of course our dearly beloved, Google (and any other search engine for that matter) are the mothers of all aggregators.
  • Social Networking - Websites focusing on connecting people with other people directly like Facebook and MySpace.
  • Social Media - User-generated content like blogs, Flickr, or Zooomr.
  • Video - Online television such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Revver.
  • Web Applications - online programs that can do virtually everything your existing software programs can do. Zoho for instance can replace your Microsoft Office programs. Google now has multiple applications that also compete with the old Microsoft Office programs including documents and spreadsheets to calendars.
From a marketing and promotion perspective there are three of these areas that will be of particular interest to you...the social networking, social media, and video categories. In fact, I've seen that most of the things I talk about tend to fall into one of those three areas.

In addition to the six categories there are four commonly used and implemented technologies within many of the web 2.o areas:
  • RSS - Real Simple Syndication is a way for a people to essentially bring the content of a website to their browser rather than visiting the site to see that same information. A website or other technology that incorporates RSS creates a “feed” to everyone who has a feed reader on their browser and has accepted the feed.
  • Wiki - A wiki is a website that allows users to easily add, remove,or otherwise edit the information on a common site. This technology is most commonly implemented where groups need a collaboration tool.
  • Tags – A tag is a keyword or descriptive term associated with an item as a means of classification specific to a website. For instance, on the photo sharing site, Flickr.com, users who tag their photos “dogs” will all be grouped together for a search on dogs.
  • AJAX – AJAX is technology incorporated into websites with the intent to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the web page's interactivity, speed, and usability.
Well, believe it or not, if you've read this whole thing you have a better understanding of web 2.0 than the average person. The real question now is what are you going to do with this? The good news about many of the things we talked about above is that there is little to no money needed on your part to begin participating and incorporating these tools into whatever you're doing. So you're a real estate agent? Ok, this stuff is for you...especially the social media. Work retail? Why don't you let users begin to tag items on your website in whatever manner they want and also let them provide feedback about the products? You'll learn a lot about their desires and needs through the process...as well as the best future products to offer them. Oh, you're a pastor...ok, get your church on the social networking sites and use social media and video like crazy! You get the picture...whatever you do, there's something in web 2.0 for you.

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