Look around and you’ll find lots of definitions for the term Web 2.0, many of them quite confusing and contradictory.

While his explanations of Web 2.0 can sometimes be that way as well, Tim O’Reilly did this week offer a very good perspective on the concept in his commencement address at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information.

But even more important than their enthusiasm, the users of successful internet applications supply their intelligence. A true Web 2.0 application is one that gets better the more people use it. Google gets smarter every time someone makes a link on the web. Google gets smarter every time someone makes a search. It gets smarter every time someone clicks on an ad. And it immediately acts on that information to improve the experience for everyone else.

It’s for this reason that I argue that the real heart of Web 2.0 is harnessing collective intelligence.

And it’s for that same reason that I argue that Web 2.0 represents not just a turning point for the computer industry but for the world as a whole.

He makes many more good points in the speech and the whole thing is well worth reading. Now the only question is, where’s the podcast?

web 2.0, tim o’reilly, commencement