This post will cover the second part of What is Web 2.0. The rich user interface. I believe the first wide user experience to this was the new Google maps. These maps use a programming language called AJAX. Which is a combination of Java Scripts and XML. The key point about AJAX is that you no longer need to reload the whole page, each time something changes. Previously, on MapQuest for example, if you wanted to move the map, you had to reload the whole page, which can take time. With Google maps, you simply grab the map and move it. AJAX is quickly becoming the standard for web development. Where it gets really interesting, is that suddendly, you can have a web page act just like an application on your computer. To see more of this technology here are some of the more popular Web 2.0 sites.
Backpack by 37 signals is a project management and todo list tracker.
If you really want to see the power of AJAX, check out Protopage. You can customize a personal homepage by dragging and dropping right on the screen. Give it a try it is remarkable what you can do.
Microsoft has noticed this trend and are developing their Live platform of Web services. They have a long list of services that have been coming out quickly. By using the Web as the platform, development is very fast.There is also another reason for Microsoft’s focus on the Web as a platform. First, there has been speculation for some time that Google is coming out with an online Office platform. The recent purchase of Writely (an online word processor) by Google added to this speculation. Mary J. Foley also speculates on her blog that going to the Web platform also helps Microsoft on the legal front. As there will no longer be issues with what they bundle together.
The other trend you are seeing with Web 2.0 applications is Mashups. The unique characteristic of AJAX is that it is an open language. Because it uses scripts, anyone can look at the source code of an application. Therefore it is easy to take Google Maps and mashup the map with a listing of apartment rentals and create a web site called Housingmaps.com.
So getting back to the original question. What is Web 2.0. It is open source, coopetition, cooperation, social networking. And to coin a popular description of Web 2.0 it is Folksonomy!