On Monday, Roger Clarke argued in an Australian National Unviersity seminar that Web 2.0 is a valid area for formal research.
Roger made a good case that something in Web 2.0 was worth researching, even if it was just working out if Web 2.0 is actually anything. ;-)
An earlier version of his notes are available, as are the slides, but they are 5Mbytes.
Subscribers to the Link mailing list will have seen this work evolve, with a number of requests for input and comment. Early on I commented that Web 2.0 was the same as AJAX and the talk was useful in correcting that misconception.
It was be easy to dismiss Web 2.0 as just a marketing gimmick, but even if so it is a very effective marking gimmick. Therefore those involved in delivering and researching systems need to be able to talk intelligently about it (even if just to say it isn't anything). One aspect of this is that Web 2.0 is very much about commercial use of the web and this colors all discussion of it.
Roger's search showed few genuine academic citations exist about Web 2.0. This would therefore seem a fruitful areas for research proposals. He first summarized Web 1, as an aggregation of technology for e-commerce and the like, without a formal architecture.
Web 2 is a marketing driven drive for something, but it is not clear what (more of a feeling that a strict distinction). One aspect is addressing the "long tail": exploiting the low volume business with low cost online services.
Some aspects: Syndication (as in RSS), Advertising Syndication (I suspect per click models might have had their day). Participation (as in Wikipedia), Collaboration (as in Wikipedia), and Tagging. One interesting aspect is that companies can induce customers to provide some of their customer support, in the form of produce reviews, support and FAQs. It occurred to me that this was the equivalent of the telephone support line putting you into a conference call with the other customers, and recorded message saying "sort it out yourself". ;-)
The new trendy area of the web is social networking and its application to business. As I found out only last week, the trendy new buzzword for this is "Enterprise 2". To find out exactly what that is, if anything, we will need to wait for another seminar.
Roger's next seminar at the ANU is "Big Brother Google?", 27 August 2007.