At the Bloggers' Lunch at TechEd, the panel was asked how they would define "Web 2.0". They largely talked about new tools such as Silverlight and AJAX, and about the interaction of consumers and sites (particularly in relation to blogs). But none of them touched on what I think Web 2.0 is about.
I think Web 2.0 is simply the second dot-com bubble. In the late 1990s, companies threw massive amounts of money into web-based ventures. Confidence in the internet was very high. Of course, this all changed in late 2000 – the bubble burst, and people saw the web (and IT in general) as an area with low return on investment. In the past few years, this has turned around again. Companies have seen the internet become more and more accessible, and the public have come to expect business to be done online. Consumer confidence in the web has continued to grow (it never really stopped), and in the Web 2.0 days, business confidence in the web has recovered.
For me, Web 2.0 is defined as "the second wave of confidence in the idea of doing business online". Of course it has been helped by an improvement in tools, by improved security, by broadband, and by the interaction that we see in myspace-style sites and rest of the blogosphere, by mash-ups, by Google Maps and Google Earth, by Silverlight, AJAX, and everything else people in the IT space love. But Web 2.0 is really just about businesses being confident about the web again – about business investing in internet-based technology.