FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Get Ready for Web 2.0

Emerging web technologies such as service-oriented architecture are colliding with social networking practices, collaboration tools such as wikis, easy-to-use media tools, Long Tail principles, James Suriowecki's approach to the "wisdom of crowds," and personalized media such as blogs to create what many are calling Web 2.0. Tim O'Reilly has written what is seen as the formal definition of Web 2.0. Dion Hinchcliffe of the SOA Web Services Journal blog is doing an excellent job of summarizing and explaining the phenomenon:

I try to describe Web 2.0 as a term given to a natural emergence of related events, rather than some artificially imposed vision. I think that's a very true and crucially important aspect of Web 2.0.

It's now so clear that people are suddenly shifting their attention en masse to the Web for their computing needs. That is, instead of installing and maintaining a bunch of rapidly aging and non-integrated bits onto their personal computers.

People are finding that Web 2.0 places like Flickr,or Voo2do, and especially del.icio.us are terribly useful because they're always available, whenever they need it, anywhere they go, with their information.

And then there's the added value factor of putting your information into a highly social place. It becomes much, much more useful. People can leverage it, add value to it with comments, tagging, aggregation, bookmarking it, and so on. Your information, if you want, becomes part of the scene.

And with Web 2.0 apps, you still maintain control of your data. You haven't lost it at all, you've really just put it in context. Yes, so Web 2.0 is such an engaging, lively, and useful place when compared to computing alone.

To visualize what Web 2.0 looks like conceptually, Hinchcliffe provides this illustration:

To answer the "how," he provides this schematic of a Web 2.0 architecture:

Perhaps the most important thing about Web 2.0 is that, like Web 1.0, no one person or corporation is creating it. It's organic, growing and evolving as we speak. The tools available for building it are able to interact, creating a "mash-up" effect that can be seen in reblogging, audiovisual remixing, and the creative ways in which people are using Google Maps. Indeed, the very concept of Web 2.0 is emerging, with thinkers like Hinchcliffe still working to define and understand it.

Funny thing is, by the time Web 2.0 is thoroughly understood, it'll be time for Web 3.0!

In addition to Hinchcliffe's blog, the MapOfTheWorld wiki is an excellent tool for tracking and learning about Web 2.0.

UPDATE: Could it be that Web 2.0 is already hitting the downside of the hype cycle? Venture capitalist Rick Segal posts a harsh counterpoint to Web 2.0 on his blog, particularly taking to task startups that are relying on Web 2.0 as merely a buzzword. Segal, it seems, is in no mood to party like it's 1999. On a more positive note, Brian of the brianstorms blog has posted a response to Tim O'Reilly's initial article, carefully examining the elements of Web 2.0 point by point. And Josh Hallett has some fun talking about the prospects for Web 2.1, 3.0 and 4.0.