I sat through a great presentation this weekend at Todcon on Web 2.0 tools and listened a bit about what defines them. Although we've been using (and creating them for a couple of years now), I'm always fascinated by the many different ways they're defined. The truth is that, to a degree, it's all marketing speak.
For me Web 2.0 tools are defined by the word synergy. Not synergy like the corporate sales speak of "we create synergies in an effort to a develop a value-added paradigm" crap. I mean synergy like it was originally defined before consultants got involved, i.e. "The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects."
For example, look at Amazon.com. There are many things that make that service successful, e if you're just looking at books. For me, the best value of Amazon is the collective intelligence it possesses. I can't get the reviews and ratings of thousands of people seeking the same kind of book at my local Borders. I can't see what thousands of people who bought my book also bought. It's amazing to consider that they've captured emergence at such a grand scale.
Google Docs is an example in micro. We have the option to create and, more importantly collaborate, on documents without the barriers of which version is where. We are finally, really leveraging the interconnectedness of the web to its fullest potential. (ok, it has more potential but it's still pretty cool).
I ran into jingproject.com from TechSmith this weekend. It is AMAZING. Basically, you install the Jing software on your pc or mac, start it up and then move on with your day. When there comes a time that you'd like to share something on your machine (e.g. capture a bad thing that happened for technical support or show someone how to do something) with others, you do a quick keystroke and you can record your screen. Now, I know there has been screen capture available for years. TechSmith is one of the pioneers in that area. However, this system takes the video and connects it seamlessly to their hosted platform and gives you a private link.
What really sets it apart is that it take down all of the barriers. Capturing what you want to capture is dead simple and sharing it is even simpler. Very cool stuff.
It could be something like Google Docs (which I think is going to displace MS Office in the the 3 years) which allows for collaborative intelligence, Amazon.com (think sharing of comments and information about the products on the site) or