Web 1.0 to Web 2.0: A Brief Evolution of Technical Writing

We are currently in the Web 2.0 World Wide Web era.  It is a concept that was developed by Darcy DiNucci in 1999 and then popularized by Tim O’Reilly.  It is the idea that the internet we engage with now is participatory of social in nature. The date of full Web 2.0 is not exactly determined.  However, we do know that this change occurred in the mid 2000s.  Prior to participatory web (Web 2.0), Web 1.0 is considered a one-way exchange of our information.  While users could search and engage somewhat over the World Wide Web, the information was pushed or projected to the user.  Even most question and answer or company managed chat forums were moderated by the company or organization source.  There were limits to the amount in which users could actually interact with each other or companies.  Web 2.0 introduced World Wide Web users to social media platforms, blogs, and other interactive technologies.  Wikipedia Web 2.0


Photo source Wikipedia

The change in internet user engagement also effected technical writing professionals.  The traditional static content of books and Web 1.0 content, now needed to be an interactive, living document.  Digital advancements in technical writing during the Web 1.0 era included creating microgenres of content such as Frequently Asked Questions or online forums and also the PDF that allowed content to maintain its intended form for printing.  Fast forward to Web 2.0, and technical writers are finding themselves becoming technological experts.  Some of the ways technical writers have had to evolve their knowledge and specialties are: learning the digital publishing software tools to create user friendly and accessible content, understand web content and be able to use those platforms to create user-engaging content such as embedded maps, videos, calendars, etc., and to also be able to create engaging micro-content for webpages as opposed to writing long documents or novels.

In additional to content creation and management for general World Wide Web users, e-learning has also opened up many opportunities in technical writing.  In Rachel Spilka’s book, Digital Literacy for Technical Communication (2010), she references that in 2008, the Society for Technical Communication (STC)’s Instructional Design and Learning Special Interest Group has grown significantly and 20% of all STC members belonged to it.  Some technological knowledge required by technical writers in this field include: authoring tools used to create e-learning content such as Dreamweaver, Flash, Captivate, and Illustrator, learning content management systems (LCMS), and learning management systems.

Many other specialty avenues exist for technical writers thanks to the development of Web 2.0.  Although the transitions over the most recent decades have been an uphill battle at times, technical writers have also gained the ability to diversity their career and have more interaction with content consumers.  Web 3.0 is beginning to be rumored about.  This will mean much more Artificial Intelligence involvement into our World Wide Web.  It will be very interesting to see how the technical writing career field evolves involving Artificial Intelligence.  Could it mean more new opportunities or could Artificial Intelligence take over some technical writing roles and responsibilities?  I sure it won’t be long before we begin to transition to Web 3.0 given the rapid advancement of internet technologies.

Posted on October 28, 2018, in Creative, Digital, Literacy, Social Media, Society, Technology, Workplace and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi JJ,

    Thank you for sharing your insight this week on the impact of technology and the importance behind Web 2.0. You begin to talk about Web 1.0 and the transition to Web 2.0 being a significant change in static content to what we now refer to as interactive content. It seems almost prevelant for businesses and organizations to have websites with interactive content such as videos, moving slideshows and graphics that keep an individual entertained to stay on the page longer. In addition, the transformation from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and static content housed in Web 1.0 which afforded the user the opportunity to contribute via discussion lists, Web 2.0 currently offers the user more by providing a user with a chance to comment, share to social media, and even leave reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, Amazon etc. It seems we are heavilyinvolved in this need to always participate and see what others are doing or saying about places, people, products and companies and Web 2.0 provides this gateway for users to contribute.

    I think you are right about the foreshadowing of Web 3.0. This concept and visualization of what this new interface will offer and allow a user to do are common questions that cross my mind when looking ahead. Do you think artificial intelligence will offer another change to the technical writing profesison? If so, what are your predictions for what the roles and responsibilities could be for those who work in technical communication?

    I enjoyed reading your blog and learning more about your insight from how the web and technology has changed.

    Thank you,


    • Hi Kim,

      Since I’ve been studying technological forecasting in one of my courses, I wonder if one role in technical communication couldn’t end up as more of a watchdog or moderator role with all the online communication but I’m not sure. Maybe that role already exists and I haven’t read about it yet. No doubt that technical writing is going to evolve more rapidly given how technology has crept into some many facets of personal and business life.

      Thank you for your comment!

  2. Hi JJ,

    Nice work on yet another informative, insightful post.

    I find your ‘Technical Writing Evolution’ summary to be rather interesting and helpful, especially as I work to land such a position. It is amazing to me that, not too long ago, technical writing required minimal technology while maintaining a modest role in the digital world. While the transformation has technically been from 1.0 to 2.0, in my opinion, it seems more like a jump from 1.0 to 5.0, so to speak.

    Your ‘word collage’ image fits nicely in this context while providing a clear summary of various digital components. For some reason, “Joy of Use” was the first to catch my attention, and that same phrase is the first to grab me each time I glance back at this image. I wonder if this particular phrase has grabbed and kept my attention because it might be contradictory in the opinions of others, who might not understand nor appreciate technology as a wonderful creation intended to make life run smoother in our 2.0 society.

    Thank you for the awesome post!


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