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Is there a Web 1.0?


When Web 1.0 is Right
The Amazon Web site was quick to embrace Web 2.0 concepts in features like its customer book reviews.
The Amazon Web site was quick to embrace Web 2.0 concepts in features like its customer book reviews.
Screenshot by HowStuffWorks.com

If Web 2.0 is a collection of the most effective ways to create and use Web pages, is there any reason to make a page that follows the Web 1.0 model? It may sound surprising, but the answer is actually yes. There are times when a Web 1.0 approach is appropriate.

Part of the Web 2.0 philosophy is creating a Web page that visitors can impact or change. For example, theĀ Amazon Web site allows visitors to post product reviews. Future visitors will have a chance to read these reviews, which might influence their decision to buy the product. The ability to contribute information is helpful. But in some cases, the webmaster wouldn't want users to be able to impact the Web page. A restaurant might have a Web page that shows the current menu. While the menu might evolve over time, the webmaster wouldn't want visitors to be able to make changes. The menu's purpose is to let people know what the restaurant serves; it's not the right place for commentary or reviews.

Another example of a good Web 1.0 approach is information resources. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia resource that allows visitors to make changes to most articles. Ideally, with enough people contributing to Wikipedia entries, the most accurate and relevant information about every subject will eventually be part of each article. Unfortunately, because anyone can change entries, it's possible for someone to post false or misleading information. People can purposefully or unwittingly damage an article's credibility by adding inaccurate facts. While moderators do patrol the pages for these acts of vandalism, there's no guarantee that the information on an entry will be accurate on any given day.

World Book Encyclopedia's Web page is an example of a Web 1.0 information resource.
World Book Encyclopedia's Web page is an example of a Web 1.0 information resource.
Screenshot by HowStuffWorks 2008

On the flip side of the coin are official encyclopedias. Encyclopedia entries are fact-checked, edited and attributed to a specific author or entity. The process of creating an encyclopedia article is very structured. Perhaps most importantly, there is a stress on objectivity. The author of an encyclopedia entry must present facts without being subjective; a person making an edit to a Wikipedia article could have a personal agenda and as a result hide certain facts or publish false information. While Wikipedia can be a good starting place to find information about most subjects, it's almost always a bad idea to use it as your sole source of information.

The boundary between what counts as Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 isn't always clear. Some Web sites are very static but include a section for visitor comments. The site as a whole might follow the Web 1.0 approach, but the comments section is a Web 2.0 technique. Even Web experts disagree on how to classify Web pages, and some think that it's a mistake to even try labeling them at all.

There's no denying that some Web strategies are more effective than others. In the end, whether or not there's such a thing as Web 1.0 is a moot point. The important thing is to learn how to use the Web to its full potential.

To learn more about the World Wide Web and other topics, check out the links on the following page.