I'm always on the lookout for useful ways to describe what is happening on the web from a macro perspective. Just recently I found one courtesy of my friend and neighbor Josh Petersen of the Robot Coop. He was quoted in the book Wikinomics:
He likens developments in the new Web to the early history of cinema "There was a period of time where cinema was a very technical art. You practically had to be an engineer just to run a camera." As the art form evolved, directors stepped up to become storytellers who were less and less preoccupied with cinematic engineering and more concerned with craft rich and engaging experiences. "I think something like that is happening on the web today," says Petersen.
For someone who works in the online community world and does not have a technical background, his point hits home in a big way. Recently I was in Vancouver and shared this point with Darren Barefoot who later made the point that the same was true for artists - in the early days artists needed a technical knowledge of chemistry in order to manage the paints and colors.
What all this boils down to is an evolution brought on through the lowering of technical barriers. Technology is absolutely necessary, but becomes immensely more powerful when combined with other skills like visual design, collaboration, storytelling, narrative, discussion, media, etc.
This also reminds me of riding in a car with JF Groff, the CTO of NetVibes and asking him about Web 2.0. He doesn't like the term - he refers "Web Renaissance".
From my perspective, the magic of Web 2.0 is made possible by technology, but is based in new opportunities for less technical people to step into the fray and have a profound impact on what we think the Web is really about. Call it Web 2.0, but maybe it is a Web Renaissance where the Internet is being reborn in a form that is open for everyone.