The evolution of the Internet, key factor for the interactive documentary

In order to focus on the new genre of the interactive documentary, we must examine the evolution of the Internet and its many possibilities in terms of interactive applications. The interactive documentary is a genre that uses various media for display and navigation: on one hand, offline media, and on the other, the online medium par excellence, the Internet. But we cannot forget other types of supports such as installations, tv and cinema or mobile devices. Here we will focus on the initial stages, Internet 1.0 and 2.0.

Towards the end of the last century in particular, the use of offline media such as CD-ROM or DVD-ROM almost ceased as the Internet incorporated some key factors that led offline media to be gradually abandoned and to a mass emigration to the Internet as a single medium. Some of these key factors were broadband connections, the flat rate and new programs enabling simultaneous animation and programming (such as Macromedia Director and Flash in the past and Adobe Flash or HTML 5 today.) This post considers the context which is the modern Internet, and today’s collaborative model or the Web 2.0.

The report entitled Del Web 2.0 al Web 3.0: nous models de negoci i oportunitats empresarials en la Xarxa del futur [From Web 2.0 to Web 3.0: new business models and business opportunities in the network of the future] (2009), produced by the Analysis and Forecasting Unit of the Centre for International Markets, suggests that the Internet has now become the most important means of accessing information and knowledge. Forecasts suggest that by 2017 there will be seven thousand million devices with Internet access and as the positive impact of the Internet throughout the economy makes itself felt in emerging economies, yet more users and services will be added.


Quadrant diagram showing the development of the Internet until 2020


A division of the Internet into four stages or phases since its inception is listed below (in this post we only will focus on the twos first stages, Internet 1.0 and 2.0):


Internet 0: is the concept of the Internet as simply a communications infrastructure, in order to interconnect mainframe omputers. At its heart was the ARPANET network, which was created in 1969 at the express request of the United States Department of Defense, and developed by the Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA). At this stage, the Internet was an incipient, static and minority-based phenomenon. As can be deduced from the idea above, the Internet is the result of the combination of science (basic research) and research programs funded by the U.S. military. Although it was largely funded by the military, it has never had a military application.


Web 1.0: coincides with the emergence of the Internet, beginning in 1993. The Internet became a vast store of information, the greatest that humanity has ever had at its disposal, a place where you can find anything, once you have overcome location problems (after the appearance of the first generation of large search engines.) This phase is the consolidated Internet stage and from the standpoint of its content, it involves procedures based on simple indexing or in other words, on linking pages based on an index and in relation to their content. Some experts believe that the concept was developed in the 1960s, with text only browsers, such as Elisa. After the subsequent advent of HTML, websites became easier on the eye, and the first browsers that could also represent images (IE, Netscape, etc.) appeared. Without a doubt, the development of the World Wide Web (www) by Tim Berners-Lee, in 1989, was the key factor that enabled this process to take place. The conception behind this revolutionary system for the exchange of information, capable of handling multimedia products with ease, opened up the possibility of paths such as searching for and publishing information, establishing conversations with other users, carrying out electronic transactions and a great deal more.


Web 2.0: without losing its functionality as a large store, the Internet becomes a macroagora, where surfers from around the world establish an ongoing dialogue and share their concerns, knowledge and experience. This phase is part of the social read-write Web and involves access known as manual semantic Web or syntactic Web. Internet experts now believe that the use of pages should be focused on interaction and creating social networks that can act as a receiver for exploiting the effects of creating interactive and dynamic websites. New websites are more like a meeting point or independent pages rather than static pages in the traditional sense of the word (which do not allow modification or interaction by the user in the broader sense – they are simply for reading). The term 2.0 has recently been coined to refer to these pages, which are capable of generating interaction in the broadest sense of the word, as part of considering them “more interactive than reactive” (Berenguer, 2004). The concept of Web 2.0 was proposed in 2004 by Tim O’Reillyof O’Reilly Media, to refer to a second generation of web pages based on communities of users and a special range of services such as blogs or wikis, which are capable of fostering collaboration and the flexible exchange of information between various users[1]. The infrastructure of Web 2.0 is complex and continuously evolving, but it includes server software, content syndication, messaging protocols, standards-based browsers
and a suite of applications for clients.

The main characteristics of Web 2.0

You can expand the information on the characterization of the interactive documentary reading some of my articles: “The Interactive Documentary. Definition Proposal and Basic Features of the Emerging Genreand “The Interactive Documentary. Definition Proposal and Characterization of the New Emerging Genre” (2011).

Also available on these links some of my presentations and communications at events and conferences, as performed for the I-Docs Symposium (Bristol, 2011) and the McLuhan Galaxy Conference (Barcelona, ​​2011).


Arnau Gifreu Castells

Researcher, Professor and Producer

Universitat Ramón Llull / Universitat de Vic

[1]The specific term was proposed by Dale Dougherty, of the company O’Reilly Media, in a joint brainstorming session with Craig Line of MediaLive to develop ideas for a conference. Dougherty suggested that the web was undergoing a renaissance, with changing rules and evolving business models. To put this proposal into practice, Dougherty signed up John Battelle to give him a business perspective. The combination of O’Reilly Media, Battelle, and MediaLive led to the first Web 2.0 conference, held in October 2004. The second conference took place a year later, in October 2005.



Berenguer, X. (2004), “Una dècada d’interactius”. Temes de Disseny, 21, pàg 30-35.

“Del Web 2.0 al Web 3.0: nous models de negoci i oportunitats empresarials en la Xarxa del futur” (2009), L’Anella (Unitat d’Anàlisi i Prospectiva de l’Obervatori de Mercats Exteriors). Acció 10 (Generalitat de Catalunya).

Recommended citation:

Gifreu, Arnau (2010), El documental multimèdia interactiu. Per un proposta de model d’anàlisi. [Treball de recerca]. Departament de Comunicació. Universitat Pompeu Fabra, pp 69-78.
Gifreu, Arnau (2010). The interactive multimedia documentary. A proposed model of analysis. [Research Pre PhD]. Department of Communication. Universitat Pompeu Fabra, pp 71-80