Web 2.0: Building the New Library


‘Web 2.0’ is a hot story out on the blogosphere right now, with an army of advocates facing off against those who argue that it is nothing new, and their allies with painful memories of Dot Com hysteria in the 1990s. Even respectable media outlets such as Business Week are getting excited, and an expensive conference in San Francisco at the start of October had to turn people away as it passed over 800 registrations.

So, is Web 2.0 something real? Does it mean anything for the way in which we continue to go about our work? Or is it yet another bubble that will burst if we simply ignore it for a few months?

Web 2.0: A State of Mind?

diagram (77KB) : Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 'meme map'

There is undoubtedly a significant degree of hype around Web 2.0 at the moment, but behind the hyperbole lie some important principles, and some powerful potential.

We are seeing the emergence of Web-based services that pull data from a wide range of back-end systems to deliver value to users, when, where and in the form that they require it. We are seeing ad hoc relationships being formed by and for these services at the point of need, rather than the costly and time-consuming human creation of contracts or service level agreements. We are seeing disaggregation of content and services into components that are far more meaningful to the user (and potentially far more valuable to the provider), alongside disintermediation of the Gate Keepers in favour of direct access to Web-visible resources. We are seeing previously passive recipients of content beginning to engage, and to combine and recombine that which they are given in new and interesting ways. We are seeing the realisation of much of the Interoperability promise [4], with expensive monolithic systems increasingly likely to be replaced by a platform supporting purpose-specific components.