Myths and Realities of Web 2.0
page 7 of 9
by Saripalli Koti Reddy
Feedback
Average Rating: 
Views (Total / Last 10 Days): 40914/ 92

Web 2.0 Key Principles

In the opening talk of the first web 2.0 conference, Tim O’Reily and John Battelle summarized key principles of web 2.0 applications:

1. Web as platform, reach out to the entire web not just the center.

2. Harnessing collective intelligence, turning the web into a kind of global brain.

3. Data is the next Intel inside.

4. End of Software release cycle, i.e. Operations must become a core competency and Users must be treated as co-developers, in a reflection of open source development practices.

5. Lightweight programming models to build loosely coupled systems and allow syndication.

6. Software above the level of a single device i.e. not limited to any specific platform, technology and devices.

7. Rich user experience i.e. enabling user to use web as a medium to collaborate, classify and editing etc.

1. The Web As A Platform / Environment

In which the Web is seen as a programming platform upon which developers create software applications. The main catalyst for this is Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, allowing communication between two or more software applications.

Web 2.0 Developer’s Tool Box:

·         Ajax - Google Maps

·         RSS – BBC News

·         Wikis – Wikipedia

·         Weblogs – MySpace, Blogger

·         Others - Podcasting, Instant Messaging and Virtual Worlds

2. Harnessing Collective Intelligence, Turning The Web Into A Kind Of Global Brain

The central principle behind the success of the giants born in the Web 1.0 era who have survived to lead the Web 2.0 era appears to be this, that they have embraced the power of the web to harness collective intelligence:

Hyper linking is the foundation of the web. As users add new content, and new sites, it is bound in to the structure of the web by other users discovering the content and linking to it. Much as synapses form in the brain, with associations becoming stronger through repetition or intensity, the web of connections grows organically as an output of the collective activity of all web users.

Yahoo!, the first great internet success story, was born as a catalog, or directory of links, an aggregation of the best work of thousands, then millions of web users. While Yahoo! has since moved into the business of creating many types of content, its role as a portal to the collective work of the net's users remains the core of its value.

Google's breakthrough in search, which quickly made it the undisputed search market leader, was PageRank, a method of using the link structure of the web rather than just the characteristics of documents to provide better search results.

eBay's product is the collective activity of all its users; like the web itself, eBay grows organically in response to user activity, and the company's role is as an enabler of a context in which that user activity can happen. What's more, eBay's competitive advantage comes almost entirely from the critical mass of buyers and sellers, which makes any new entrant offering similar services significantly less attractive.

Amazon sells the same products as competitors such as Barnesandnoble.com, and they receive the same product descriptions, cover images, and editorial content from their vendors. But Amazon has made a science of user engagement. They have an order of magnitude more user reviews, invitations to participate in varied ways on virtually every page--and even more importantly, they use user activity to produce better search results. While a Barnesandnoble.com search is likely to lead with the company's own products, or sponsored results, Amazon always leads with "most popular", a real-time computation based not only on sales but other factors that Amazon insiders call the "flow" around products. With an order of magnitude more user participation, it's no surprise that Amazon's sales also outpace competitors.

3. Data is the Next Intel Inside

Every significant internet application to date has been backed by a specialized database: Google's web crawl, Yahoo!'s directory (and web crawl), Amazon's database of products, eBay's database of products and sellers, MapQuest's map databases, Napster's distributed song database. As Hal Varian remarked in a personal conversation last year, "SQL is the new HTML." Database management is a core competency of Web 2.0 companies, so much so that we have sometimes referred to these applications as "infoware" rather than merely software.

4. End of Software release cycle

One of the defining characteristics of internet era software is that it is delivered as a service, not as a product. This fact leads to a number of fundamental changes in the business model of such a company:

Operations must become a core competency. Google's or Yahoo!'s expertise in product development must be matched by an expertise in daily operations. So fundamental is the shift from software as artifact to software as service that the software will cease to perform unless it is maintained on a daily basis. Google must continuously crawl the web and update its indices, continuously filter out link spam and other attempts to influence its results, continuously and dynamically respond to hundreds of millions of asynchronous user queries, simultaneously matching them with context-appropriate advertisements.

Users must be treated as co-developers, in a reflection of open source development practices (even if the software in question is unlikely to be released under an open source license.) The open source dictum, "release early and release often" in fact has morphed into an even more radical position, "the perpetual beta," in which the product is developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. It's no accident that services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Flickr, del.icio.us, and the like may be expected to bear a "Beta" logo for years at a time.

5. Lightweight programming models

Once the idea of web services became au courant, large companies jumped into the fray with a complex web services stack designed to create highly reliable programming environments for distributed applications.

But much as the web succeeded precisely because it overthrew much of hypertext theory, substituting a simple pragmatism for ideal design, RSS has become perhaps the single most widely deployed web service because of its simplicity, while the complex corporate web services stacks have yet to achieve wide deployment.

Similarly, Amazon.com's web services are provided in two forms: one adhering to the formalisms of the SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) web services stack, the other simply providing XML data over HTTP, in a lightweight approach sometimes referred to as REST (Representational State Transfer). While high value B2B connections (like those between Amazon and retail partners like ToysRUs) use the SOAP stack, Amazon reports that 95% of the usage is of the lightweight REST service.

6. Software above the level of a single device

One other feature of Web 2.0 that deserves mention is the fact that it's no longer limited to the PC platform. In his parting advice to Microsoft, long time Microsoft developer Dave Stutz pointed out that "Useful software written above the level of the single device will command high margins for a long time to come."

Of course, any web application can be seen as software above the level of a single device. After all, even the simplest web application involves at least two computers: the one hosting the web server and the one hosting the browser. And as we've discussed, the development of the web as platform extends this idea to synthetic applications composed of services provided by multiple computers.

But as with many areas of Web 2.0, where the "2.0-ness" is not something new, but rather a fuller realization of the true potential of the web platform, this phrase gives us a key insight into how to design applications and services for the new platform.

To date, iTunes is the best exemplar of this principle. This application seamlessly reaches from the handheld device to a massive web back-end, with the PC acting as a local cache and control station. There have been many previous attempts to bring web content to portable devices, but the iPod/iTunes combination is one of the first such applications designed from the ground up to span multiple devices. TiVo is another good example.

7. Rich User Experiences

As early as Pei Wei's Viola browser in 1992, the web was being used to deliver "applets" and other kinds of active content within the web browser. Java's introduction in 1995 was framed around the delivery of such applets. JavaScript and then DHTML were introduced as lightweight ways to provide client side programmability and richer user experiences. Several years ago, Macromedia coined the term "Rich Internet Applications" (which has also been picked up by open source Flash competitor Laszlo Systems) to highlight the capabilities of Flash to deliver not just multimedia content but also GUI-style application experiences.

However, the potential of the web to deliver full scale applications didn't hit the mainstream till Google introduced Gmail, quickly followed by Google Maps, web based applications with rich user interfaces and PC-equivalent interactivity. The collection of technologies used by Google was christened AJAX.

New Exemplars of Web 2.0 

New companies and services embracing the principles of Web 2.0. These companies are by no means an exhaustive list, but are leading the pack. They provide popular software and services that have proved their worth among the competition.

Flickr is a fast-growing photosharing service that provides an collaborative user interface as well as a powerful API to it's content. (Recently acquired by Yahoo!)

Del.icio.us is a popular social bookmarking service. Joshua Schacter, the founder, characterizes his service as a way to remember things. (Recently acquired by Yahoo!)

Jotspot - the Application Wiki, which allows users to create and share wiki-like web pages. JotLive - a live group note-taking application.

37Signals provides several services: Basecamp - a project collaboration tool and Backpack - a collaborative tool to create sharable web pages.

Digg is a content aggregation service. It provides a mechanism for its many users to "digg" a piece of content, and aggregates them like votes to bubble up the most popular content to its widely-viewed pages. In this way Digg culls the actions of its users to provide value.

Writely is a web-based service that allows for the creation and sharing of documents in a sophisticated word-processor-like interface.

Feedburner is an RSS publishing service. Sites can direct their readers to a feed at Feedburner instead of hosting it themselves, taking advantage of Feedburner's advanced tracking capabilities to provide insight into who is reading your feed.


View Entire Article

User Comments

No comments posted yet.

Product Spotlight
Product Spotlight 





Community Advice: ASP | SQL | XML | Regular Expressions | Windows


©Copyright 1998-2021 ASPAlliance.com  |  Page Processed at 2021-11-29 1:21:54 AM  AspAlliance Recent Articles RSS Feed
About ASPAlliance | Newsgroups | Advertise | Authors | Email Lists | Feedback | Link To Us | Privacy | Search