Friday, October 28, 2005

Web 2.0 – The “Enlightened” Generation

The next time you’re in a group mention the Internet as a source of business startups and then look at your watch. Within 15 seconds someone will mention the word “bubble.” It’s been five years but it was a scarring experience for everyone to see so many good ideas come up, get funded, and then turn into bad businesses. In retrospect it’s just part of the technology cycle – emerging, hype, disillusionment, enlightenment, and finally, productivity. The IBM PC computer came on the market in the early 80s. I remember picking up a technology magazine at that time and flipping through it. There were no less than 250 vendors of PC-compatible computers. Aside from Compaq and Apple, I can’t remember any of those companies making it out of the 80s.

For the Internet, the Bubble years were the “hype” phase and the post-millennium was the “disillusionment” phase. Now, the internet is entering the next phase, “enlightenment,” but for some reason the media is unusually quiet about it. The number of productive applications coming out is quite phenomenal. Check out this list.

There is a movement about which puts a name to this new phase of the internet. They call it Web 2.0. In fact, they even have a conference to discuss the related technologies which includes personalized search, social networking and Web-based office applications. Trends seen at the conference include the use of tagging to replace folders, and user generated content to draw more traffic (check out AOL’s new move), and what some call “mashups” which is a combination of several technologies to create a more usable application. Zimbra is one example of a mashup. It takes every date, phone number, and location in an email and cross-references it with the user’s personal calendar, Skype, or Google maps, respectively. Another trend focuses on events. Zevents makes another mashup that shows events on a Google map in a calendar view, so you can see what’s going on near you. Several companies showed personalized search engines that try to limit the number of irrelevant finds. To see a list of companies debuting at WebCon2.0, please click here.

Obviously, the web is enabling this new round of applications, but what exactly is it about the web that drives it? The web is no longer the conduit of a company’s software platform, but now it IS the platform. Adam Bosworth’s blog details the implications of this new situation. Since no one owns the web, no one owns the platform. The focus shifts to community, collaboration, and content.

For a nice graphic listing the core components of today’s Web-based platform, click here. Examples of Web 2.0 applications and tools include Flock which is a browser that integrates many of the tools of Web 2.0 such as Flickr and Tagging which attaches metadata to text making it easier to search for information. In this post, for example, I could apply a tag such as “web tools.” Anyone searching on web tools would find it even if I didn’t use the actual words “web tools.”

If you are working with Web technology, I would like to hear from you. You can reach me at hall.martin@ni.com.

Best regards,
Hall T. Martin

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