Web 0.x to Web 2.0 Simplified

November 29th, 2005 by jeremychone
Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 Small From its creation through its development to its reinvigoration phases, the Internet has never ceased to be a rapid and fascinating center of innovation. Today’s “Web 2.0“, which I refer to as the “reinvigoration” phase, is probably as inspiring and promising as the launch of the Internet itself.

This new excitement is probably generated by the presumption of achieving the ultimate Internet goal of enabling true “Everybody to Everybody” participation. However, while this “new wave” brings tremendous user and social values, it still does not seem to address some of the critical Internet roadblocks to pervasive Internet collaboration.

To better understand these limitations, we need to take a quick look at the evolution of the Internet. I see three main phases in the Internet evolution. (Note: The “Web x.x” numbering scheme is completely artificial, and is just used to support a “relative numbering” scheme leading to today’s “Web 2.0″ term).

  • The Creation (“Web 0.x”): In the late mid `90s, the Mosaic project, created by Marc Andreessen, had the ambitious goal of making network collaboration accessible to the broadest audience possible. With the creation of Netscape Corporation, the idea attained tremendous visibility and support from the market, leading to the proliferation of a new client application allowing unfettered access to network information: The Internet browser.
  • The Development (“Web 1.x”): The exponential growth in popularity of this new medium led established and new software companies to realize the great potential of this new market. On May 26, 1995, Microsoft, in a famous Bill Gates memo (“The Internet Tidal Wave“), reoriented itself towards this new model. Although the over-excitement created an inflated market that eventually burst, many content and service companies such as Yahoo!, Amazon, and eBay have remained strong and growing. The popularity of this new paradigm, coupled with the commoditization of the Browser on many devices, have put Internet in almost everybody‘s hands. This phase could be seen as the popularization of Internet access.
  • The Reinvigoration (“Web 2.0″): Lately, infrastructure commoditization and the flamboyant success of new Internet companies, such as Google, have reinvigorated the drive for Internet innovation. I see two new fundamentals from the previous eras:
    • First, the industry is now focusing on popularizing content publishing. New services like Blog (e.g. Six Apart), Wiki (e.g. Wikipedia), Photo Album (e.g. Flickr), Social Network (e.g. Linked In), and many others are based on the principle of enabling every users to become content producers as well as content consumers.
      This “2 Way” web is already having important social ramifications, where knowledge and information are becoming more and more open and accessible.
    • Second, most of the Internet organizations are placing more emphasis on usage (direct or indirect via APIs) than subscribers (eyeballs). This is a great step towards building a stronger Internet in which closed Internet services, such as today’s Instant Messaging networks, will hopefully be pushed out of this ecosystem. It is always a great milestone when an industry understands that backing a larger cake might be more beneficial than trying to take a bigger piece of a smaller cake (see the Inherent Truths and Value of Community).

The following simple graph represents this evolution, where the “Web 1.x” phase is characterized by “content consumer” growth and the “Web 2.0″ phase by “content producer” growth.

Internet Web 0.x to Web 2.0
Web 0.x to Web 2.0 Simplified

However, while content publishing has been made much simpler, it still is not as pervasive as content access. For example, while my grand mother can access online pictures of her grandchildren, she still has a hard time contributing to the content.

Here are the main hurdles to realizing the true “everybody to everybody” Internet participation paradigm.

  • User identity silos: While today’s economics valorize usage values, there are still strong incentives for companies to own their user communities on a exclusive basis . These economic incentives, coupled with the technical challenges to providing secure and distributed Identity Management mechanisms, are considerably slowing down the rate of Internet participation growth. The good news is that the Internet community is tackling this issue (referred to as “Identity 2.0“) very seriously, and while there are no clear winners yet, there are good contenders (Infocard and SXIP).
  • Interoperability mechanisms fragmentation: As Ray Ozzie mentioned in his memo, cross-service interoperability mechanisms fragmentation is also a key obstacle to Internet growth. However, the defacto standard, where “clone services” just copy the APIs of their established competitors, has been a pretty good short term workaround. For example, 23 photo sharing service, profiled by TechCrunch, cloned Flickr from the user interface down to the APIs. There are also very promising new simple protocols, like SSE, that will probably continue to emerge as needed.
  • Limited Internet architecture utilization: Outside of a few Internet applications, such as IM, Voice Chat, and “Illegal” file sharing, most of the Internet services just use a Client/Server Internet application model. However, there are many examples where a more distributed approach would greatly enhance the user experience. Opera integration with Bit Torrent is probably a first step towards this direction. However, there does not seem to be much more than that happening in this area.

The good news is that the Internet community is actively working on resolving these issues to enable users to take better advantage of the Internet.  So, we can expect to see more innovation in the years to come around these areas.

UPDATE Dec 02, 2005: Michael Arrington reports a great post (Web 2.0 DNA), from Brandon Schauer, about Web 2.0 historical timeline. A must read!

UPDATE Dec 04, 2005: Good discussion about “Web as a platform” from A VC.

7 Responses to “Web 0.x to Web 2.0 Simplified”

  1. John Furrier Says:

    Great Post!

    I posted a podcast from the yahoo announcement tonight


  2. Pramit Singh Says:

    All the versions of the web- one timeline-great story idea.

  3. Gastero Prod Says:

    Le Web 3.0 verra t

  4. e-Commercant - Le Blog » Du Web 0.x au Web 2.0: création et développement Says:

    [...] http://www.bitsandbuzz.com/2005/11/29/web-0x-to-web-20-simplified/ [...]


    Crucial DNA of Web 2.0

    Brandon Schauer hat eine Web 2.0 DNA erstellt, die auf einer Zeitleiste schön die einzelnen Meilensteine des Web zum Web 2.0 darstellt. DOWNLOAD PDF.

    The industry has spent a lot of time defining Web 2.0 and mapping its DNA. But as we attempt to emu…

  6. DiTTES.iNFO BLOG Says:

    Crucial DNA of Web 2.0

    Brandon Schauer hat eine Web 2.0 DNA erstellt, die auf einer Zeitleiste schön die einzelnen Meilensteine des Web zum Web 2.0 darstellt. DOWNLOAD PDF.

    The industry has spent a lot of time defining Web 2.0 and mapping its DNA. But as we attempt to emu…

  7. web writing trainer Ben Says:


    Thank you for putting this together. This is a very neat summary of the evolution of the internet and the issues that lie ahead if we are to get the maximum benefit for everyone out of the medium.

    I shall be directing my students to this page for a deeper insight into how far the internet has come.