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Evolution towards Web 2.0

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Created: yndurain (29 Jun 2007)
Last edited: hamishwillee (30 Jul 2012)

As of December 30, 2006 there were 1,091,730,861 Internet users worldwide. This means a growth of 202.4% average worldwide since 2000 as stated by InternetWorldStatistics and “The scope of the Web today is hard to fathom. The total number of Web pages, including those that are dynamically created upon request and document files available through links, exceeds 600 billion. That’s 100pages per person alive” [Kelly, 2005].

The key point that really makes the web 2.0 so different and innovative is that all the process around building the web can be done with no technological expertise [de la Torre, 2006] this allows any user to be involved with the web as a participant instead of just a reader. This is where the disruption emerges: as Tidd et al [2005] say, “what began as a fringe business has moved into the mainstream and eventually changes the rules which the mainstream operates.” We no longer have technological experts programming the web; we now have users that have taken control over the web!


Web1.0 vs Web 2.0

Comparing Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0 we can see that there are many differences between them. For instance, the way it is used, how pages are displayed, the technology behind it, who edits it, how it is visualized and how it can be measured [de la Torre, 2006]. However if we analyze what all these differences have in common we can see that it is the way people use the Web now rather than the technology behind it.

While Web 2.0 services have been born during the 2000s, the technology behind them was born in the 1990s. This means that the technology has been around for a long time, and it is mostly the way the web is used that has changed, the way it is now perceived by users. User interfaces are now different, users can now personalize their WebTop to visualize whatever content they like to use instead of having an imposed web page layout as they used to have, and it is a PULL strategy instead of a PUSH one. There is a freedom in choosing the content to view and which type of device to visualize it from.

As the Web has matured into Web 2.0, a new format for online writing has appeared, the weblog which is smaller and more concise [Hourihan, 2002]. Both Blogs and wikis are tools that are driven and dependent upon social conventions rather than technological SW functionalities, their goal is to facilitate collaboration and interaction between users [Fumero, 2005].


Comparison between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0

Although the origins of the web go back to the internet, an “intersection between science, military research and libertarian culture” according to Castells [2002], its uses has evolved from a pure business orientation to a pure social and sharing one. When the Web was born, at first static pages appeared with the objective to post information to users (e.g. companies websites), in which only navigation functionality through links was available. After some time Web applications showed up making the web more dynamic, users started to interact with the Web, either to request information (e.g. search engines or bi-directional applications) or to buy things on-line (e.g. e-commerce.)This is when the big boom happened and vertical web applications appeared creating new processes, e.g. on-line banking, traveling services, etc. After many years of the same uses, B2C and B2B a new one finally appeared: users sharing information between each others, P2P and this lead to the user interacting as a co-programmer in the Web which totally changed its creation model and Web 2.0 was born.


EvolutionWeb2.gif


Analysis of the web in the technology market life cycle Different types of innovation appear at different stages of the technology market life cycle in order for products to survive and evolve. This is exactly what has happened with the Web, in the late 1990s early 2000s, it was rather commoditized, it seemed like it was entering a phase in which users were beginning to look for new offers. This phase was the perfect time to attract entrepreneurs and the market was ready for some type of disruption to happen through a radically innovative business model, like Moore [2004] explains in his technology market life cycle model. This is how non-profit P2P services such as Napster’s music sharing web page or Google’s community e-mail gmail were born. This new business model reframed the web’s value proposition to the customer [Moore, 2004] which was based on sites in which either companies offered products or institutions offered content to consumers.

The interaction between the user and the web was a pull model from the user’s point of view: users consumed content or products from the web. When the Web 2.0 appeared it changed; it became a push-pull model. Users now both publish content to the Web and consume content from the Web.

Analyzing Moore’s [2004] model on life cycle for technology products we can understand the phases that the Web has gone through and in which phase did Web 2.0 appear.

Moores-TechnologyLifeCycle.gif


A- Technology Adoption Life Cycle: New technology goes through 4 sub phases from introduction until is proven its usefulness and it is perceived necessary by users.

B- Growth Market: Considered as the early market it is the phase in which the market grows fast and high volumes of demand are achieved.

C- Mature market: Growth has flattened, product is fully established, every one uses it already and they start to take de product for granted in their life (it starts to become a commodity.)

D- Declining market: product is a commodity already, demand starts to decline and consumers are starting to search for new functionalities.

E- End of life: technology is obsolete and the product no longer interests consumers.

Placing the web in the previous graph we can analyze what has happened in each phase and were it is today:

A- Technology Adoption: 1990 ~ 1994 Web is born and slowly introduced among early adopters.

B- Growth Market: 1995 ~ 1999 Web starts to grow and we enter the Internet boom phase and it starts to take over the market place.

C- Mature market: 2000 ~ 2003 Web is a commodity: everyone has a web page, on-line business replaces traditional ones.

D- Declining market: 2004 web 2.0 is born to give response to users needs: to take control of the web.

A business model innovation happens and new rules of the game appear: the user is now in control of the web. A new market appears as disruptiveness takes place.


The fact that in the web there is an open distribution model, it allows anyone to modify its code create new programs and applications, this results in a positive spiral of technological innovation which is based on cooperation and free circulation of technological knowledge [Castells, 2002]. Sharing information and collaboration is what helps innovation to happen.

Web 2.0: disruptive innovation

Innovation is about change which can take several forms: product, process, position and paradigm. - Product Innovation is about changing things, - Process Innovation is about changing how things are created or delivered, - Position Innovation is about changing the context in which things are sold - Paradigm Innovation is about changing the mental model about how we look at things [Tidd et a, 2005]. Most of the time innovation takes place as an improvement, in these cases the “rules of the game are not changed”. However there are some times in which new rules appear and they open up new opportunities like the case of the new social services brought by Web 2.0. However they also bring new challenges to existing players, and traditional internet companies such as yahoo!, Google, MSN have to evolve and launch new social services in which users can interact and publish content of their own [Tidd et al, 2005]. Examples of this are companies such as Yahoo! buying Flickr and Google buying YouTube in order to compete in the new marketplace.

I believe that in the case of Web 2.0 we are facing a Paradigm Innovation since the product is essentially the same, the Web, but the way users perceive it is totally new, they now see it as a interactive tool in which they participate instead of as a product that they are just consuming. Innovation creates new possibilities by combining different knowledge sets, and this combination process usually takes place under uncertain conditions [Tidd et al, 2005]. As Castells [2002] states, “cooperation and freedom of information may be more conducive to innovation than competition and proprietary rights”

Disruptive Innovation

Clayton Christensen states that “disruptive technology introduces new attributes, valued by new customers and eventually valued by existing customers.

When Napster first appeared, it was a big revolution. However this new way of using the web was just the beginning of a new paradigm: social interaction within the web started to happen as users started exchanging mp3 files within each other and users started to modify web pages by adding their own content to it; and this new service was supported by the same existing technology, HTML and FTP. No one could have guessed at that point the consequences this first disruption would have on the internet world. As a matter of fact, it would bring a new web: Web 2.0. A place in which the users are active players instead of just consumers. New technology concepts started to appear to cope with the new services needs, tagging for semantic coding, Ajax programming languages to cope with the new update pace needed for the web 2.0 services.

As Tidd et al [2005] put it, “It is here that market disruption emerges ― what began as a fringe business has moved into the mainstream and eventually changes the rules under which the mainstream operates” The trigger of this innovation has been the behavior of the web users that has shifted into a new model. This type of innovation gets a lot of attention because demand appears as if from nowhere [Moore, 2004].

Consequences of disruptive innovation

A new technology has emerged to respond to these innovation: a new type of SW, Socialware, which is created by users with the objective of creating social networks to enable web users to communicate with each other and with the world that brings together users in the same web to share their thoughts.

According to Fumero [2005], this new SW will eventually change the way the Web is used generating new social ways of interaction and new uses. Socialware is very dynamic and it evolves by including user’s input in the form of content (e.g. text, digital media) and of new functionalities (e.g. user groups), this SW will be the basis of all new Web 2.0 services. According to Fumero [2005], this SW must include functionalities such as: - interaction and conversations between individuals or groups, - social feedback and - social networking.

There is also a certain degree of uncertainty which usually is associated to any innovation, in Socialware this uncertainty is caused by the users’ participation in a global and anonymous way. People who do not know each other are creating this SW in common from all over the planet in a totally unorganized way: it seems like an “organized chaos” is taking place in the new Web. With the Web 2.0 innovative services, as Anibal de la Torre says, contents are the new main players rather than technological or design aspects of the Web. Users are interested on what is posted on the web and in updating the content.

This page was last modified on 30 July 2012, at 10:56.
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