The challenges of explaining Web 2.0


If you can understand and explain what Web 2.0 is, that could be a real asset in your professional development.

At least, that’s one interpretation of this chart posted by Steve Rubel: searches millions of jobs from thousands of job sites. This job trends graph shows the percentage of jobs we find that contain your search terms.

Another rising skill according to this data is social networking, which I would interpret as understanding what it is, how it works and what the business benefits are.

While the information Steve has researched applies specifically to the US, I think it’s a valid indicator of what the picture will soon look like here in the UK.

It’s interesting to note that this data indicates that an understanding of blogs is in decline. I don’t find that surprising as general awareness is now quite high.

Opportunities are still there, though, if you can illustrate to your employer or your client how to use blogs as integrated complementary engagement channels, not simply what they are and how to write a post.

Explaining Web 2.0 is a compelling challenge, especially for communicators. And especially as there are so many definitions out there already.

And which Web 2.0 are we talking about?

The tech-focused one? Maybe such as Markus Angermeier’s tag cloud:


What about the communication-focused one? –


I adapted the definition in this slide from the rather good Dive Into Web 2.0 ebook. I find the simplicity of this explanation works very well when talking about Web 2.0 with business people – it starts a conversation.

How would you explain Web 2.0?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Jon Hoel

    Hi Neville,

    Apart from being a catch-all for the technological aspects, another aspect I’ve seen discussed has been Web 2.0 as a set of ideals about how the web should be, and a mindset about using the web.

    I’ve also seen the term Web 2.0 [tools] used interchangably, with social media, though most people seem to view social media as a subset of Web 2.0.

    What are your thoughts on that?

    Am in the process of reading your book on podcasting – great job!

  2. rob

    Hi Neville,

    I’d disagree that it is difficult to define web 2.0. To do it, you just need to go back to the source – the guy that coined the term in the first place, Tim O’Reilly:

    “Web 2.0 is the move to the internet as platform, and an understanding of the rules for success on that new platform. First among those rules is building applications that harness network effects to get better the more that people use them.”

    A great article explaining the web as platform is here (from the guy who founded Netscape):



  3. neville

    Rob, in conversations with business people, whenever I start using words like ‘platform’ or ‘applications’, I see eyes start to glaze over. For those types of conversation, I much prefer to focus on softer descriptions such as the slide in the post.

    Jon, that’s one of the issues: confusing social media as an explanation of Web 2.0.

    And glad you’re enjoying the book!

  4. Jon Ray

    Web 2.0 describes a way to have more conversations in a more efficient manner. As applications get more complex on the back end, they become easier to use by front end users.

    The easier it is to have many conversations online, the smaller the barrier of entry for hesitant technology adopters (my mom, grand parents, 3-year olds).

    Therefore, it seems that the number of conversations I can have online is directly proportional to the ease of using the current technology available.

    Web 2.0 is a pairing of technolgies, all working with one another, that allow me to have more conversations using less effort.

  5. Wessel

    For me the definition of Web 2.0 lies within the following explanation.

    With Web 1.0 you used to go to the content, now with Web 2.0 the content come to you based on your preferences and requirements. You have more control on the information overload that exist.

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