When asked the question, "What is Web 2.0?" perhaps you can offer more insight to the term other than "It's the word with 580 million listings in Google.*" Any knowledge about the phrase may place you above the norm, as most internet users are still perplexed at its mention. The actual origin and definition of Web 2.0 is an issue that has received much debate, enough so to have its own "Criticism" section on its Wikipedia page. The term has been called everything from "overly complicated" to a "social phenomenon" to simply a "marketing buzzword." Amongst the hype and criticism, however, are some valid explanations that may help to reach the heart of what Web 2.0 truly means.
If you Google Web 2.0, you'll find the following definition: "Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately, Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes."
This definition links to Wikipedia's Web 2.0 page, which further explains the concept in layman's terms as "a perceived second-generation of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites (wikis and folksonomies) which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users."
In regards to its origin, Wikipedia states that the term's popularity arose from the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference held in 2004. OReillynet.com gives some insight into the brainstorming session that hatched the conference, and offers a more in-depth definition for Web 2.0 in their online article, "What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software." Tim O'Reilly, the founder of O'Reilly Media, refers to Web 2.0 as "business embracing the web as a platform and utilising its strengths," stating that "Eric Schmidt's abridged slogan, don't fight the Internet, encompasses the essence of Web 2.0—building applications and services around the unique features of the Internet, as opposed to building applications and expecting the Internet to suit as a platform."
As online store owners, perhaps you've already embraced your own definition of Web 2.0 with anything ranging from an online store blog to a business MySpace page. In doing so, you are taking the word-founder's advice in embracing, not fighting, the ever-changing internet and the way in which it's used today—and the different way it may be used tomorrow.
-Stacie Leonard, Volusion
*As of August 24, 2007. In O'Reilly's Web 2.0 article written on September 30, 2005, he noted "more than 9.5 million citations in Google" for the term.