Us or them: Web 2.0 versus Web 1.0

Web 2.0 is about us whereas Web 1.0 was about them. For me, this sums up the fundamental differences between the two formats. David Curle (2009) describes Web 2.0 as:

a web of relationships, a web of empowerment, and a platform for application development … where the power of information, application, and peer-to-peer intelligence meet in order for people to do something – converse, purchase, practice medicine, share, invent or answer.

Users are empowered to create these relationships and develop applications by combining Web 2.0 technologies such as blog software, wikis, RSS, widgets etc with Web 1.0 search and access platforms (Curle, 2009).

Web 1.0 formats ‘broadcast’ to users while Web 2.0 formats invite users into a conversation. Another fundamental difference between the two is the tendency for Web 1.0 formats to control users while Web 2.0 formats empower users (O’Reilly, 2005).

In the following table I have listed some examples of the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 collated from some suggestions by Tim O’Reilly (2005) and Joe Drumgoole (2006).

Web 1.0 Web 2.0
Reading (homepages) Writing (blogs)
Publication Participation
Companies Communities
Client-server Peer-to-peer
Portals RSS
Taxonomy (keywords) Folksonomy (tags)
Wires Wireless
Owning Sharing
Content management
(Brittanica online)
Advertising Word of mouth

Do these differences make one format any better than the other?

First, consider reading versus writing. A great many people do not blog. They are content just to read. In those circumstances, Web 1.0 formats are as valid as Web 2.0 formats.

Next, consider the suggestion that Web 1.0 was about companies whereas Web 2.0 is about communities. In reality, Web 2.0 is more often about companies enabling the formation of communities. No great advantage is apparent there. In any event, Web 1.0 formats such as Yahoo Lists also allowed communities to develop.

Web 2.0 is an evolution not a revolution. Whether one format is superior to the other is part of the age-old debate about whether something new is better than something old. As the evolution continues, so too will the debate.

Curle, D. (2009). Professional Networks and Social Publishing in the Legal Tax and regulatory Segment, Outsell, Volume 3, Burlingame. Retrieved  on 3 May 2009 from

Drumgoole, J. (2006). Web 2.0 vs Web 1.0, Copacetic. Retrieved 2 June 2009 from

O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next  Generation of Software. Retrieved 3 May 2009 from


One Response to Us or them: Web 2.0 versus Web 1.0

  1. Excellent Article.

    Another dimension to web 2.0 is AJAX methodologies
    which allows database driven web applications run with desktop like speed and richness. (google maps, flikr and kayak are examples of AJAX web sites/applications)

    The problem is that it takes significant programming skills and also time to build great ajax web apps, but this is what users of the web want (they are tired of the “click and wait” syndrome of web 1.0 applications.)

    Full Disclosure:

    We are working on this problem and plan on releasing a codeless AJAX solution this summer which will make the creation of AJAX web applications significantly easier and faster.

    Richard Rabins

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