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Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as ‘web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centred design and collaboration’. The term owes its origins to a 1999 article by IT
consultant Darcy DiNucci, which challenged programmers to adapt to the spread of portable Webready devices. The concept was broadened out in 2005 by online media pioneer Tim O’Reilly, who
gave contrasted Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 using examples: DoubleClick versus Google AdSense,
Britannica Online versus Wikipedia, personal websites versus blogging, publishing versus
participation, directories (taxonomy) versus tagging (folksonomy) and stickiness versus syndication,
to mention but a few.
In 2006, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams showed how Web 2.0 was set to disrupt how markets
operate and how businesses are organised. They called this new paradigm ‘wikinomics’, defining it
as ‘the effects of extensive collaboration and user-participation on the marketplace and corporate
world’.
Wikinomics, they said, is based on four principles:
1) Openness, which includes not only open standards and content but also financial transparency
and an open attitude towards external ideas and resources;
2) Peering, which replaces hierarchical models with a more collaborative forum, for which the Linux
operating system is a quintessential example;
3) Sharing, which is a less proprietary approach to (among other things) products, intellectual
property, bandwidth and scientific knowledge; and
4) Acting globally, which involves embracing globalization and ignoring physical and geographical
boundaries at both the corporate and individual level.
Another Web 2.0 building block is Chris Anderson’s concept of ‘The Long Tail’ – named after the area
of a statistical distribution curve where it approaches (but never quite meets) the axis. Anderson’s
breakthrough idea was that, in a Web 2.0 era, selling less to more people is big business. The Long
Tail questions the conventional wisdom that says success is about generating ‘blockbusters’ and
‘superstars’ – those rare few products and services that become runaway bestsellers.
Anderson sums up his message by saying that:
1) The Long Tail of available variety is longer than we think;
2) It’s now within reach economically; and
3) All those niches, when aggregated, can make up a significant market; and
4) The Long Tail revolution has been made possible by the digital age, which has dramatically
reduced the costs of customized production and niche distribution.

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