New to Web 2.0? Here is a Book Review of a Great Book For You

Exploring Web 2.0:Second Generation Interactive Tools-Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis, Networking, Virtual Worlds, and More

By Ann Bell Katy

Crossing Press 2009 Copyright

Web 2.0? Whatever happened to Web 1.0? For that matter what’s the difference? And even more to the point, who cares?

According to the author, Ann Bell, an Online Instructor and Course Developer For the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Web 1.0 faded away shortly after the Dot Com debacle at the beginning of the new millennium. Before that, she says, the information paradigm was “publish and browse;” the web was there to be read from, not interacted with. Today, in Web 2.0 data streams from every conceivable source are continually mixing and combining. As to who cares, knowledge, as they say, is power; any businessperson planning to make a living on the Web would be wise to pay heed to some of this stuff.

And this is a fine book for someone who wants to learn more about the Internet but doesn’t want to get bogged down in the technical morass. Author Bell doesn’t torment us estimating kilobytes or explaining domain name servers. Web 2.0, she says, depends on sharing among users, and she sets out to show us how we all can benefit from this collaboration. The chapter on RSS Feeds, for instance, gave the clearest explanation of what RSS is and how to use it of anything I’ve yet read on the subject. Information diced and sliced and delivered to your plate to suit your needs. She also gives us a list of valuable links to use in building our own RSS system.

For those of us that have always gone blazing by such nonsensical words as metadata and folksonomy, there is an interesting section explaining these terms and showing how they are important in Social Bookmarking, another system any businessperson who hopes to succeed on the net should be aware of. Are you on delicious.com yet? Good, then you understand tagging. Of course there is still Podcasting, Vodcasting and ScreenCasts, Wikis, Mashups and Virtual Office applications to be discussed.

Virtual Office applications, or cloud computing as it is called by many, is a valuable addition to any business office. Free software and free storage that is well beyond the reach of your crashed hard drive. You don’t know where to find this valuable stuff? No problem, Ms. Bell lists several of the better-known services: Google Docs, Microsoft Live Office and Zoho. (I tried Microsoft Live Office for the first time and found it overly complicated; I’m back to Google Docs.)

Some readers might find this book a bit on the light side. Ms Bell spends very little time on technical questions. Except for the section on RSS she tends to be more descriptive than helpful in using the various items she describes. But the book does serve as an excellent introduction to the new interactive resources of Web 2.0.