That’s the question that I am going to be trying to answer this week from the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. As a buzzword, “Web 2.0” refers to the user-generated, user-customizable sites that are transforming the Web from a vast library of static pages into an interactive experience. Translation for IT: it’s about Web-based applications.

I forgive you if you started yawning when I said “Web-based applications.” Believe me, I understand. Since 2001, IT has been hearing about the fact that applications were soon going to be moving en mass to the Internet (and/or your intranet) and that the Web browser would be the platform for accessing them. Back then, the buzzword for this was “Web services.” It hasn’t happened, at least not en mass. 

One of my engineer colleagues here at CNET Networks, John Potter, recently told me that hiring engineers in San Francisco has gotten really tough lately because of the rash of Web 2.0 startups that are gobbling up tech talent at a rate that he hasn’t seen since the dot com boom. I have felt the effects of that since I arrived in San Fran. Last night, the cab driver asked me (out of the blue), “Are you in town for the Web 2.0 thing?” 

Then, I was talking to an accountant at the CNET Networks office this morning, and when he heard I was in town for the Web 2.0 Expo he said, “I have a bunch of friends who are going to that!” 

So, there’s a ton of excitement and hype about Web 2.0 right now, and not just from techies. I’ll try to sift through the glitz and provide IT pros with the information that they need to know about the next stage of development of Web applications, since that’s what this is really about from an IT perspective.

This week, I’m meeting with tech stallwarts IBM, Sun, and Citrix to get their take on Web 2.0 and how it fits into their plans. I’m also meeting with several startups that I think could have some products to interest IT, including Vidoop, 3Tera, and Egnyte. Stay tuned.