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Web 2.0: the origin of the word that has changed the way we understand public relations

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Abstract

This article reviews the concept Web 2.0 in order to determine who was the first person to use it. Although it is widely accepted that the term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O'Reilly in 2003, a comprehensive literature review shows that the term had been used previously. Specifically, in 1999, the designer Darcy DiNucci talked about Web 2.0 in an article published in Print Magazine. In addition, this paper analyzes the meaning of the concept Web 2.0 and its influence on public relations. Knowing the origin of Web 2.0 will enable us to understand the new communication paradigm.
Representing PR: Images, identities and innovations.
Barcelona International PR Conference, 2-3 July 2013
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Web 2.0: the origin of the word that has changed the
way we understand public relations
Cristina Aced Toledano1
1 The Open University of Catalonia and Abat Oliba University caced@uoc.edu
ABSTRACT
This article reviews the concept Web 2.0 in order to determine who was the first person to
use it. Although it is widely accepted that the term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O'Reilly in 2003, a
comprehensive literature review shows that the term had been used previously. Specifically, in
1999, the designer Darcy DiNucci talked about Web 2.0 in an article published in Print Magazine.
In addition, this paper analyzes the meaning of the concept Web 2.0 and its influence on
public relations. Knowing the origin of Web 2.0 will enable us to understand the new
communication paradigm.
Key Words: Web 2.0, social media, public relations, two-way communication
1. INTRODUCTION
Web 2.0 is the second generation of the World Wide Web (www), characterized by two-way
communication and user participation. Commonly referred as the participatory web, this new phase
of the www is the evolution of the static sites of the early Internet.
There is no consensus on the exact moment when this phase began. There is also some
disparity of versions about who created the term Web 2.0 and when.
Knowing the origin of the term will enable us to contextualize the concept and to understand
the new communication paradigm associated to it.
This paper focuses on the concept Web 2.0 and aims to find out who was the first person to
use it, where and with what meaning. Moreover, the article also analyzes how the term has
evolved since it was coined and what its implications in the field of public relations are.
2. OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY
The main objective of this research is to discover if there are mentions of the concept Web
2.0 before the year 2005, when Tim O'Reilly used this term in the article What Is Web 2.0. Design
Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software (O'Reilly, 2005b), where he
explains that his company had coined the term two years before. Moreover, the current paper
analyzes the evolution of the meaning of the concept Web 2.0 and its influence on public relations.
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The specific objectives of the current paper are to:
(1) Investigate whether there are articles published before 2005 in which the term Web 2.0
appears.
(2) Analyze the context in which this term is used and with what meaning
(3) Compare the original meaning with the current meaning.
(4) Study the influence of this new era of Internet in public relations.
In order to answer these questions, we carried out an exhaustive review of the literature on
this subject published to date. This revision includes not only books and journal articles but also
non- scientific articles. Furthermore, other digital sources such as podcasts and blogs have been
consulted.
3. WHAT IS WEB 2.0?
It is not easy to define what Web 2.0 is, considering that there are as many definitions as
authors (Macaskill & Owen, 2006; Jones, 2008, cited in Knowlton, 2010).
Web 2.0 is considered a new version of the World Wide Web (commonly referred to simply
as "the web" or "www") which was designed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990. It is defined as “a
platform whereby content and applications are no longer created and published by individuals, but
instead are continuously modified by all users in a participatory and collaborative fashion” (Kaplan
& Haenlein, 2010). Also known as the participatory web, the term Web 2.0 plays with the idea of
the versions of software.
Although Berners-Lee states that interactivity is the essence of the web since its birth
(Laningham, 2006), other authors (O'Reilly, 2006; Pisani & Piotet, 2009) consider that the early
Internet was static. Tim O’Reilly (2007), who coined the concept according to many authors
(O'Reilly, 2006; Pisani & Piotet, 2009; Nafría Mitjans, 2008), says that Web 2.0 is the rebirth of the
web after the dotcom bust.
Web 2.0 is characterized by two-way communication and user participation, as opposed to
the previous era, when it was necessary to have advanced knowledge of programming to create a
website (Aced, 2010). Now, thanks to social media such as blogs, social networks and
microblogging, ordinary users may become producers of content in a way that would have been
impossible before the Web 2.0 (Blank & Reisdorf, 2012). These tools are as easy to use as a word
processor.
Focusing on the idea of user-generated content, the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD) describes the Web 2.0 as "the participative web based on an Internet
increasingly influenced by intelligent web services that empower users to contribute to developing,
rating, collaborating and distributing Internet content and customizing Internet applications" in its
publication Participative web and user created content (OECD, 2007). Also in this line, Blank &
Reisdorf (2012) define Web 2.0 as "using the Internet to provide platforms through which network
effects can emerge".
The web as a platform is the core of the concept Web 2.0 (Giger, 2006). Tim O'Reilly (2007)
highlights this idea and says that "Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected
devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that
platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use
it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing
their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects
through an 'architecture of participation,' and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to
deliver rich user experiences".
Following these definitions, in this paper we consider that Web 2.0 is the evolution of the
static sites of the early Internet. The key words of this new era of Internet are: participation,
conversation, user-generated content and two-way communication (Xifra & Huertas, 2008; Pisani
& Piotet, 2009; Celaya, 2011; Davis, 2012; Estanyol, 2012; Aced, 2013).
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4. WEB 2.0 AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
4.1. What is public relations (PR)? The relationship between PR and Web 2.0
The lack of a widely accepted definition of public relations has left the field of public relations
vulnerable (Hutton, 1999). In fact, a review of public relations' short history suggest many different
definitions of this term (Hutton, 1999).
Hutton (1999) explains that in the mid-1970s Harlow reviewed the evolution of public
relations definitions and found that the idea of "using communication to build and hold goodwill"
was the dominant theme in this field through the first three decades of the XXth century.
Gordon’s (1997) defines public relations as "the active participation in social construction of
meaning”. In a simpler definition, Hutton (1999) explains that PR is "managing strategic
relationships".
A review of more recent public relations definitions in textbooks and academic literature
suggests that the most common definitional components appear to be “management,”
“organization,” and “publics” (Hutton, 1999).
In fact, Grunig and Hunt (1984) include these three concepts in their definition of public
relations: “management of communication between an organization and its publics." Likewise,
Cutlip, Center and Broom (cited in Gordon, 1997) also employ these three key terms. In the text
Effective Public Relations they state that “public relations is the management function that
establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and publics
on whom its success or failure depends."
Edward Bernays provides a little different definition. The father of the public relations states
in his article The Theory and Practice of Public Relations: A Resume (Bernays, 1955) that this field
is "the attempt by information, persuasion and adjustment, to engineer public support for an
activity, cause, movement or institution".
The professional associations also try to throw light on this issue. The American Marketing
Association (AMA, 1995) considers PR as "that form of communication management that seeks to
make use of publicity and other nonpaid forms of promotion and information to influence the
feelings, opinions, or beliefs about the company, its products or services, or about the value of the
product or service or the activities of the organization to buyers, prospects, or other stakeholders".
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “public relations is a strategic
communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and
their publics” (Corbett, 2012). This definition was developed in 2012 by PRSA members and other
PR practitioners through a crowdsourcing process, a participative practice that seizes the collective
intelligence and the opportunities that Internet brings.
On the other hand, when we analyze the concept of public relations, there appear to be six
relatively distinct orientations or models of public relations practice: persuasion, advocacy, public
information, cause-related public relations, image/reputation management, and relationship
management (Hutton, 1999).
Nowadays, it is usual to connect PR with terms such as "reputation" and "reputation
management". For instance, the CIPR (2013), the professional body for the United Kingdom public
relations industry, says that public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what
you say and what others say about you. So "public relations is the discipline which looks after
reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and
behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual
understanding between an organization and its publics".
This definition of PR includes three key terms: "organization" and "publics", which appeared
in some previous definitions, and a new one: "understanding". As CIPR explains on its website,
"understanding is a two-way process. To be effective, an organization needs to listen to the
opinions of those with whom it deals and not solely provide information. Issuing a barrage of
propaganda is not enough in today's open society."
In fact, the understanding process is crucial. When Harlow (cited in Hutton, 1999) built a
working definition of PR that summarized 472 different definitions, he also focused on the idea of
understanding:
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"Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and
maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and cooperation
between an organization and its publics; involves the management of problems or issues;
helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion; defines and
emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps
management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serving as an early warning
system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication
techniques as its principal tools."
After reading these definitions of PR it is easy to see the connection between public relations
and Web 2.0. Conversation, understanding, reputation and relationships are key concepts on both
fields. Web 2.0 is a new place to interact in, create and maintain relationships and carry out some
research about the company and its publics. Social media are new tools to reach the audiences. In
this environment, transparency, honesty and truthfulness are particularly important (Locke et al.,
2009).
4.2. How Web 2.0 has changed the way we communicate
The advent of Internet, and especially of the Web 2.0, has changed the way we
communicate and is bringing "dramatic changes" to many aspects of public relations (Wright &
Hinson, 2009; Robson & Sutherland, 2012; Aced & Lalueza, 2012). Web 2.0’s interactivity opens a
huge opportunity for PR practitioners to introduce more effective and balanced communication
with different publics (Xifra & Huertas, 2008; Kirat, cited in Evans et al., 2011; Davis, 2012;
Estanyol, 2012).
New media require new ways to communicate (Aced, 2013; Grunig, 2004; Macnamara,
2010b). As Davis (2012) writes: "Today PR is less about channelling your message through the
right media and more about making connections directly with your audience". Now that anyone can
publish contents on the Internet, the key is not publication but engaging the audience. "The role of
PR is no longer about passive exposure. It's about the direct connection of brands with real
people", Davis adds.
Social media can help PR professionals to reach their publics and to interact with them,
because human beings -and not demographic sectors- (Locke et al., 2006) are participating in
social networks and blogs. They are telling their friends about their experiences with the brand
over social networks and blogs (Davis, 2012). For this reason, companies should be on social
media, listening to the conversations about them and managing their presence in the digital
context (Aced et al., 2009). And as Davis (2012) explains, "who and what your brand is needs to
be consistent and coherent", both online and offline.
Furthermore, listening to the Internet is also useful to be aware of the desires, interests, and
needs of consumers (Estanyol, 2012). In the Web 2.0 environment, users do not just act as
receivers but also as content generators (Blank & Reisdorf, 2012; Estanyol, 2012). So companies
must become more social and be willing to interact with their publics, answering their questions
and participating in the online conversation (Locke et al., 2006; Aced et al., 2009).
Web 2.0 is the antithesis of the mass society model (Rosenberg & White, 1957, quoted in
Blank & Reisdorf, 2012) of mass media that has dominated Western societies for the past 150
years (Blank & Reisdorf, 2012).
If we review the four models of public relations proposed by Grunig and Hunt in 1984 (see
Figure 1), we see that public relations evolve from a one-way communication to a two-way
communication. The Web evolves in a very similar way. As we saw in the previous section, the
static sites of the early Internet become more dynamic and easier to create and maintain.
In this context, Ignasi Vendrell (2010) conceptualizes a new model of communication which
is horizontal and multidirectional. It is horizontal because hierarchies disappear and the
organization and the public are placed at the same level. It is multidirectional because the
feedback may be continuous. Manuel Castells (2009) creates the concept of "mass
autocommunication" to explain that the people who generate the message can spread it globally
and reach a global audience, if they want, thanks to social media.
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One-way communication
Two-way communication
Multidirectional
communication
Characteristic
Public
information
Two-way
asymmetric
Two-way
symmetric
Multidirectional and
horizontal
Purpose
Dissemination
of information
Scientific
persuasion
Mutual
understanding
Interaction and
conversation
Nature of
Communication
One-way;
truth is
important
Two-way;
imbalanced
effects
Two-way:
balanced
effects
Mass
autocommunication
Communications
Model
Source to
receiver
Source to
receiver
with
feedback
to source
Group to
group and
viceversa
Many to many
Leading
Historical
Figures
Ivy Lee
Edward L.
Bernays
James E.
Grunig and
Todd Hunt
Ignasi Vendrell;
Manuel Castells
Figure 1. Characteristics of the five models of public relations. Adapted from Gruning & Hunt
(1984), cited in Sharpe (2000) and Moss, D.; Warnaby, G., & Thame, L. (1996), and with data from
Castells (2009) and Vendrell (2010).
We could say that the multidirectional and horizontal model is the natural evolution of the
two-way symmetric model in to the Web 2.0 environment.
To sum up, the Web 2.0 gives PR practitioners the opportunity to:
Reach their audiences directly, without intermediaries or gatekeepers, and converse with
them (Davis, 2012; Locke et al., 2006; Macnamara, 2010b).
Connect with targeted audiences (Jones, 2008, cited in Knowlton, 2010)..
Know the opinion of their publics (Xifra & Grau, 2010; Estanyol, 2012; Aced, 2013).
Create and maintain relationships with their publics (Wright, 2001).
Identify the new e-influencers and be in contact with them. For instance, bloggers or Twitter
users who write about subjects related with the brand (Xifra & Huertas, 2008; Steyn et
al., 2010).
Have a human voice (Locke et al., 2006; Steyn et al., 2010) to converse with their publics,
among peers. The Internet eliminates hierarchies (Vendrell, 2010).
Improve the (online) reputation of the organization (Aced et al., 2009)
5. THE HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT WEB 2.0
5.1. First references
Tim O'Reilly (2005b) explains that the concept Web 2.0 was born in a brainstorming session
between the companies O'Reilly Media (a leading technology publisher) and MediaLive
International (a company which organizes tech events), in 2003. After the bursting of the dot-com
bubble, Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and O'Reilly VP, noted that far from having "crashed", the
web was more important than ever, with "exciting new applications and sites popping up with
surprising regularity" (O'Reilly, 2005b).
Dougherty considered that the companies that had survived the collapse seemed to have
some things in common and proposed to call this new era of the Internet Web 2.0. The rest of the
people who participated in this brainstorming agreed with him. Then, O'Reilly Media (2007)
decided to organize the Web 2.0 Summit, a conference which was held from 2004 to 2011 in the
United States and was to become a reference in the sector.
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"In the year and a half since, the term Web 2.0 has clearly taken hold, with more than 9.5
million citations in Google. But there's still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0
means", Tim O'Reilly wrote in 2005 in his article What Is Web 2.0. Design Patterns and Business
Models for the Next Generation of Software (O'Reilly, 2005b).
Two years later an adaptation of this work was published in the journal "Communications &
Strategies". It was "the first initiative to try to define Web 2.0 and understand its implications for the
next generation of software, looking at both design patterns and business modes", according to
O'Reilly (2007).
Many authors accept that Tim O'Reilly coined the term Web 2.0 (Aced et al., 2009; Celaya,
2011; Fumero & Roca, 2007; Nafría Mitjans, 2008; Pisani & Piotet, 2009). Even the Encyclopædia
Britannica (Hosch, 2011) attributes this concept to O'Reilly: “The term had its origin in the name
given to a series of Web conferences, first organized by publisher Tim O’Reilly in 2004”. However,
other sources disagree (Ruiz García, 2010b; Knowlton, 2010; Macnamara, 2010a) with this
explanation of the origin of the term.
In fact, the English version of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Wikipedia contributors,
2006), explains that “The term is closely associated with Tim O'Reilly because of the O'Reilly
Media Web 2.0 conference in late 2004”, but clarifies that “the term Web 2.0 was coined in January
1999 by Darcy DiNucci, a consultant on electronic information design (information architecture)”.
DiNucci used this term in her 1999 article Fragmented Future (DiNucci, 1999), which was
published in "Print Magazine" where she wrote a periodical section entitled "Design and New
Media". In this article, the term Web 2.0 was used in the context of web design. The author
referred to the World Wide Web of the late 1990's as an embryo of what was to come: Today's
Web is essentially a prototype. (...) The Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in
essentially static screenfuls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web
2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop”. She
considers that Internet would change radically in the future and that the path leading to this new
stage was just opening up.
This author (DiNucci, 1999) anticipated some features of the web of the future and argued
that the web was already fragmenting as a result of the use of mobile devices. Moreover, she
predicted that it would be necessary to create standards to allow users to read the same
information on any device. She also noted the importance of taking into account the particularities
of each format when designing websites, such as screen size and resolution (an earlier reference
to the responsive web design in which many publications are working today).
Regarding the concept Web 2.0, DiNucci (1999) highlighted interactivity as a key aspect of
the next stage of the Web. Also, O’Reilly considered it as a defining characteristic of Web 2.0.
However, according to Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of World Wide Web, interactivity has been the
essence of the web since it was born. In an interview conducted by IBM (Scott Laningham,
DeveloperWorks podcast editor, 2006) Berners-Lee was asked about the differences between
Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 and he explains that “Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an
interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it
means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the
Web was supposed to be all along.” So it seems that the idea of connection and interaction has
existed since the origin of the www.
In 2002, the book Web 2.0: 2003-’08 AC (After Crash) The Resurgence of the Internet & E-
Commerce was published. Its author, Dermot McCormack (McCormack & Staff, 2002) argued that
the bursting of the dot-com bubble was not the end of the Internet economy and e-commerce but
the beginning of a new phase of the Web. This approach is very similar to that which Tim O'Reilly
(2005b) and Dale Dougherty attributed to themselves three years later.
In 2003, the term Web 2.0 was used in several articles (Festa, 2003; Robb, 2003; Idehen,
2003; L. Hosch, 2011; Business Week, 2003).
2006 was a critical year for the concept Web 2.0. In May, a controversy over the ownership
of the term reached social networks, when it was discovered that O'Reilly Media had trademarked
the term Web 2.0 (Fumero & Roca, 2007; Ruiz García, 2010a). O'Reilly Media lawyers pressed
charges against IT@Cork, a non-profit association, for organizing a conference about Web 2.0 and
using this term in the name.
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Brady Forrest (2006), O’Reilly Media manager, exposed the reasons of this legal action in
the company's blog:
“O'Reilly and CMP co-produce the Web 2.0 conference. "Web 2.0" was coined when
we were brainstorming the concept for the first conference in 2003. (…) To protect the brand
we've established with our two Web 2.0 Conferences, we're taking steps to register "Web
2.0" as our service mark, for conferences. It's a pretty standard business practice. Just as
O'Reilly couldn't decide to launch a LinuxWorld conference, other event producers can't use
"Web 2.0 Conference," the name of our event. In this case, the problem is that it@cork's
conference title includes our service mark "Web 2.0," which the law says we must take
"reasonable steps" to protect. We've also contacted another group that has announced a
"Web 2.0 Conference" in Washington, DC this September.”
Some days later, Tim O'Reilly himself published a clarification on his blog (O'Reilly, 2006), in
which he emphasized the same aspects as Brady Forrest: the term Web 2.0 was coined in a
O'Reilly Media brainstorming so they therefore want to register it in order to preserve its use in
events. Finally, IT@Cork could use the term in the title of conference of that year, but now it is
forbidden to organize a conference in the United States in the title of which Web 2.0 appears.
In the same year, in 2006, the Web 2.0 became the Person of the Year according to Time
magazine (Grossman, 2006). It was the first time that the US magazine had chosen a collective
idea as the Person of the Year: Internet users and user-generated content. The cover of this
special issue showed a computer screen with the claim: "You. Yes, you. You control the
Information Age. Welcome to your world”. This cover has become an icon for this new era of the
Internet.
In 2009, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) recognized the term Web 2.0 as an English
word (BBC News, 2009). GLM is an American company that searches new terms on the Internet
and recognizes them as a word when they have been cited at least 25,000 times. Later, the term
was included in other reference works, such as the Encyclopædia Britannica (L. Hosch, 2011) and
the Oxford English Dictionary.
Despite all these references, O'Reilly Media considers itself to be the creator of the term and
when someone attributes the authorship of the concept to O'Reilly himself, he does not deny it, as
can be seen in many interviews (Pérez, 2009). In fact, when Tim O'Reilly published the post about
the definition of Web 2.0 in 2005 on the O’Reilly Media blog (O'Reilly, 2005a), an Internet user
(Hall, 2005) reminded him in a comment that another author, Joe Firmage, had used this term
previously. In response to this statement, Tim O'Reilly answered that both scholars have used the
term at the same time but independently of each other and he insisted that it was O'Reilly Media
who was coined this new concept of Web 2.0 with a new meaning:
“You're right that Firmage independently started using the term Web 2.0 about the same
time we did, in 2003. We weren't aware of his usage (which was very different than ours)
when we first started using the term. Firmage was using the term to describe his new 3D
portal software, which would "replace" the WWW. Obviously, it never caught on. If you read
the article you point to, you'll see that he talks about giving anyone to build a "world class
portal...like AOL or MSN." Is that the Web 2.0 we know today? (…) We started planning for
the conference in 2003, and actually launched it in October 2004. That's when the buzz
began. The term really took off when I wrote the paper "What is Web 2.0?" to accompany
the second conference, in October 2005.”
5.2. The evolution of the meaning
Tim O'Reilly and the journalist John Battelle presented the first definition of the concept Web
2.0 in public in the keynote speech at the first Web 2.0 Summit in 2004. They referred to the web
as a platform (Forrest, 2006; L. Hosch, 2011) and explained that this new phase of the www is
characterized by software applications that reside on the Web instead of being installed on the
computer. O'Reilly and Battelle contrasted this second version of the Web with the previous one,
which they called 1.0. Now, for the first time, the concept Web 2.0 is connected with the business
world. The term is associated with business models such as Netscape, which makes software and
distributes it to the final customers, and with Google, which instead of producing software provides
a service based on search data.
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Later, O'Reilly conceptualized a more comprehensive definition of the term in the article
What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software,
published firstly on the O'Reilly website (O'Reilly, 2005b) and later in Communications &
Strategies, which became the first article about Web 2.0 published in a scientific journal (O'Reilly,
2007).
When Darcy DiNucci (1999) first used this term in the article Fragmented Future, in 1999,
she related it to the area of design, probably influenced by her professional activity as an
information architecture consultant.
Some years later, Joe Firmage (Festa, 2003) had a technological approach to the concept,
connecting it with software and infrastructure. Along the same lines, John Robb (2003) focused on
systems and infrastructures when he talked about Web 2.0. By contrast, Dermot McCormack
(2002) referred to Web 2.0 from a financial and business point of view, similar to the meaning later
proposed by O'Reilly.
When at the end of 2006 Time chose the Web 2.0 as the Person of the Year, the magazine
focused on people. As such, the cover highlighted the role that every user has on the social web.
“The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of
millions of people and making them matter.” (Grossman, 2006) This is a more social approach to
the concept but also emphasizes the economic impact: We're looking at an explosion of
productivity and innovation, and it's just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise
have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy”.
After the publication of the O'Reilly's article about Web 2.0 (O'Reilly, 2005b), many authors
(Fumero & Roca, 2007; Nafría Mitjans, 2008; Pisani & Piotet, 2009; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010;
Blank & Reisdorf, 2012) have tried to improve and deepen the definition of this concept. Most of
them focus on the sociological perspective of the term.
In fact, the concept Web 2.0 was born to make the difference between the new era of the
Internet (more social) and the previous era (more technical) (Aced et al. 2009). The term "makes
reference to a second edition, corrected and improved, of the Web that Tim Berners-Lee had
originally defined" (Dans, 2010).
Today, it is widely accepted that the Web 2.0 is much more than technology (Shuen, 2008).
The current approach to Web 2.0 is more social than technological. In fact, the Web 2.0 is also
known as the social web (Dans, 2010). What began as a purely technical concept has moved into
a much broader context, which includes social, economic and business aspects.
6. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
From these comprehensive literature reviews, we can state that Tim O'Reilly was not the first
scholar to use the term Web 2.0. Darcy DiNucci (1999) used the term in 1999, in an article
published in Print Magazine, which was the first written reference that has been identified. Other
authors such as Joe Firmage (Festa, 2003) or Dermot McCormack (McCormack & Staff, 2002)
used the term afterwards, before Tim O'Reilly published the definition of the concept (O'Reilly,
2005a) in O'Reilly blog.
However, we can consider that Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly, 2005b) was the first to make a
comprehensive definition of the concept Web 2.0 from a business perspective, in line with that
which McCormack (2002) had made in 2002. In the article What Is Web 2.0. Design Patterns and
Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, O'Reilly (2005b) defines Web 2.0 from a
business perspective. In 2007, a revised version of this article was published in the journal
Communications & Strategies. Moreover, O'Reilly Media popularized and promoted the concept
(Pisani & Piotet, 2009) through the Web 2.0 Summit.
In conclusion, O'Reilly's definition was the first mention of this term in a journal, and probably
the first attempt to clarify its meaning, but it was not the first time that the concept had been used
in an article.
There is not the slightest doubt that the arrival of the Web 2.0 and social media has an
important influence in the practice of public relations (Wright & Hinson, 2009; Robson &
Sutherland, 2012; Aced & Lalueza, 2012).
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Web 2.0 gives PR practitioners the opportunity to reach their audiences without
intermediaries (Davis, 2012; Locke et al., 2006; Macnamara, 2010b), to connect with them (Jones,
2008, cited in Knowlton, 2010) and to know their opinion (Xifra & Grau, 2010; Estanyol, 2012;
Aced, 2013). Moreover, it allows them to identify the new e-influencers and be in contact with them
(Xifra & Huertas, 2008; Steyn et al., 2010) and to improve the (online) reputation of an organization
(Aced et al., 2009).
Many scholars are studying how PR professionals can use these tools to reach their
audiences (Xifra & Huertas, 2008; Wright & Hinson, 2009; Vendrell, 2010; Steyn et al., 2010;
Lalueza, 2010; Robson & Sutherland, 2012; Aced & Lalueza, 2012; Davis, 2012; Estanyol, 2012;
Blank & Reisdorf, 2012), but it is necessary to deepen the communication opportunities these tools
bring. For instance, it would be interesting to analyze how companies are using social media, with
which aim and whether they are making good use of such platforms. It remains to be seen how
social media will change the way companies communicate with their publics in the future.
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