Analysis - March 9, 2007



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March 2007


Print etourism and technology, Trends,

Web 2.0 extends to both tourism and culture

The internet continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Indeed, recent changes have been so profound that they have led to the introduction of the phrase “Web 2.0”, which has quickly become the trendy, catch-all term used to describe the new ideology that is shaping the internet. This new approach has been adopted by numerous sectors but specifically by the tourism industry, giving rise to the term “Tourism 2.0”. Some see this as a trend that will quickly spread to other sectors. If that is indeed the case, when will we see the emergence of “Culture 2.0”?

The 2.0 Philosophy

With Web 1.0, internet users could do little more than browse for information on professionally‑constructed sites, using tools developed by a limited number of companies. The advent of the 2.0 era means users are now active participants, able to produce their own tools and data. They interact with the medium by creating, modifying, organizing, commenting on and uploading content.

Users can take advantage of the internet’s expanded functionalities to build virtual communities where they share information, favourite sites, photos, videos and much more. A wide range of tools have been developed that strengthen the Web’s influence: blogs, news aggregators, forums, meta‑search engines, podcasts, and so on. Some of the better‑known icons of Web 2.0 are:

  • Wikipedia: web‑based free‑content encyclopaedia project
  • Flickr: photo sharing website
  • bookmark sharing website
  • Myspace: social website with filesharing
  • Youtube: video sharing website
  • Netvibes: personal news aggregator

The 2.0 trend is spreading!

Today’s internet community includes millions of members, and a great many of them are excited about 2.0. The number of online communities, websites and webtools is growing rapidly. When sectors see 2.0 added after the name, they know it identifies them as a domain where the critical mass of content and users matches the 2.0 mindset.

Already, there is increasing online use of the term “Medicine 2.0,” to refer to the proliferation of sites where people share information and advice, enabling them to confirm a doctor’s diagnosis or diagnose their own illness by comparing their own symptoms with those listed online.

Tourism 2.0

Already a mainstay of the online world, the tourism sector lost no time in adopting the 2.0 philosophy; after all, travel has always involved an element of exchange between individuals. Also, since nobody can try a trip before they buy it, tourism is the perfect commodity to bring individuals together online where they can provide the inside scoop on vacation deals. The kind of networking made possible by the web is the perfect stepping stone to sites that promote the sharing of photos, videos, opinions, advice and referrals related to tourism destinations.

With popular influence rapidly growing, the role of critic and consultant is no longer the exclusive domain of professionals and the same is also true of control over the image of a company or destination. One of the results of web users being able to produce and broadcast information and visual content is that the general public is faced with increasing amounts of material of uneven quality. The power of internet users is so great that it influences the way information is organized and accessed.

It is precisely the emergence of a significant number of web‑tools and sites, specifically geared toward tourism and inspired by the Web 2.0 mindset, that gave rise to the term Tourism 2.0.

Culture 2.0… it’s only a question of time!

Culture in general already has a significant web presence. Many cultural organizations and artists were quick to take advantage of the web’s ability to reach new audiences by creating virtual museums, online art galleries, live concert broadcasts and increased access to archival material – although these offerings are mostly based on Web 1.0.

However, we are starting to see an increasing number of cultural projects that have been more influenced by the 2.0 philosophy, where the general public participates and is involved in creating, personalizing, classifying and broadcasting content. This trend is particularly pronounced among those in the vanguard of Web 2.0, all of whom devote part of their space to culture:

  • Wikipedia lets internet users collaborate on writing encyclopaedia articles on a wide range of cultural topics;
  • Youtube lets millions of amateur and professional artists upload video clips and short films;
  • Various blogs and forums provide a space for authors to share and discuss their work with other community members.

A certain number of cultural entities are also trying to exploit the potential of Web 2.0; among them:

  • A space devoted to commercial film, this site now lets people upload and read reviews and comments.
  • This site lets people catalogue their personal book collection, share it with other community members and make recommendations; it claims it has 100,000 users and 7 million books.
  • This section of the Brooklyn Museum’s website features blogs and photo‑, video‑ and document‑sharing as a means of promoting interaction with its community. The museum has also designed an impressive space on Myspace, the biggest social networking website (
  • Clicking on the Take Part tab on this dance site takes the user to a page that uses “wikis,” a collaborative online tool, to let people share their knowledge, ideas and news about dance.
  • Developed by New Zealand’s Ministry for Culture & Heritage, “New Zealand culture online” provides an online space that cultural partners and the general public can use to display information on a wide variety of cultural activities.

When the number of site and users reaches critical mass, the Culture 2.0 movement will take flight!

Culture 2.0…a world of opportunity!

Your clients want to express themselves and get involved, so give them the tools to do it! Adding a blog, forum, comments, opinion or review page to your site will enable them to interact not only with you, but also with each other.

Managers can make good use of this new public‑generated content (blogs, forums, virtual communities, social networks, comment sites, etc.) to learn what their clientele is actually thinking. Monitoring client comments is often much more effective than using customer comment cards, and definitely less expensive than setting up a focus group.


– Krajewski, Pascal, “La Culture au risque du Web 2.0 – Stage d’étude,” École nationale supérieure des sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques, December 2006.
– Péloquin, Claude, “Web 2.0, vous n’avez pas fini d’en entendre parler!,” Réseau de veille en tourisme, Chaire de tourisme Transat ESG Uqam, June 27, 2006.

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