This past Sunday’s Dilbert pokes fun at the babble of buzzwords surrounding the label of "Web 2.0" — but it’s false sagacity to say, knowingly, that the label has no meaning at all. There are real distinctions between the mechanisms and the usage models of the Web That Was in the 1990s and the Web That Is today: I’ve taken my own crack at putting those differences into concrete terms, and perhaps you’ll find my list of differences useful in your own discussions.

Web 2.0 is about bringing people to content, rather than merely bringing content to people: that is, about enabling community input. It’s about meritocracy rather than democracy: that is, about letting people tell each other what’s useful signal, instead of letting everyone have an equal shot at adding to the noise.  It’s about transaction rather than mere publication, and it’s about content that can go anywhere rather than rigid formats that dictate presentation.

As the universe of free content grows larger, and the ubiquity of Web connection spreads farther, there’s value to be had in using Web 2.0 technology and practices to create a compelling presence: one that engages new customers and partners as well as retaining the ones you have. And yes, Dilbert, that means there are Web platforms that will make that value easier to achieve and share.

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