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This week: Greasemonkey mayhem, Ajax fever, Web Design Minimalism mojo, Blogpoly Fun!, Yahoo Music Engine rave.

Greasemonkey gives power to power users

What is Greasemonkey? According to the homepage, it's "a Firefox extension which lets you to add bits of DHTML ("user scripts") to any web page to change its behavior." In laymans terms, it's a Firefox add-on that lets users monkey around with any webpage - change its data, design, or functionality. Greasemonkey gives practical meaning to the term 'read/write web', because it literally enables users to re-write a webpage.

It's creating a stir in the developer community right now, as evidenced by Mark Pilgrim's latest book: Dive Into Greasemonkey. That's for the technical-minded. The best business-oriented introduction I've read on Greasemonkey was by a blogger called Nivi, who thinks Greasemonkey will "blow up business models". He gives examples, such as adding competitor pricing to an Amazon page. 

For the Web wonks amongst us, this is an interesting quote from Nivi:

"Greasemonkey allows us to connect a page from the deep web to another page on the deep web. Deep web pages are created dynamically from database queries. So, Greasemonkey is, in a sense, hypertext for databases."

Time will tell whether that is true, but it's a tempting metaphor for Web 2.0...

Ajax Fever

Ajax is another hot technology in the Web 2.0 world, evidenced by the recent Ajax Summit hosted by O'Reilly and Adaptive Path. Ajax stands for 'Asynchronous JavaScript + XML', but you can get a better idea of what it is by using Google's Gmail and Google Maps. Derek Powazek explains:

"Ajax, and the pile of techniques and technologies that get lumped in with it, are all about breaking that page-by-page web experience into smaller chunks. If the traditional web was letter writing, Ajax is instant messaging."

This week Flickr announced they were converting from Flash to Ajax - further proof that Ajax is a defining technology of Web 2.0.

Web Design Minimalism

Have you noticed how many weblogs have taken to stripping away all their bells and whistles and gone all minimalist? The most recent one I've noticed is Tom Coates' excellent blog plasticbag. Jarrod Piccioni has been following this trend and notes:

"The concept [of minimalism in web design] still applies today, where the focus is shifting from the adoption and support of web standards to the adoption and spreading of Web 2.0."

His point being that the content is the most important element. Jarrod's post has some great tips for bloggers who want to ensure their content is the main attraction. Also check out Noah Brier's advice to design for your content, "rather than against it".


My Wrap-Up has been a bit techie this week, so for some light relief have a look at Blogpoly - a variation of the game Monopoly. Not only is it an accurate visual overview of the Web 2.0 world, it's also a lot of fun! For example: del.icio.us, Bloglines and Technorati occupy the coveted orange spots (where I used to try and stack all my hotels - a common strategy for every Monopoly player back in the day...); Wikipedia and Creative Commons are the two public utilities; and "Chance" and "community chest" become "comment" and "trackback".

Techie Post of the Week: Yahoo Music Engine

Lucas Gonze pointed me to a beauty of a post written by Ian Rogers, one of the developers of the new Yahoo! Music Engine. OK, it's a breathless account of something he helped build, but the sheer enthusiasm in this post made me forget about the obvious bias. For example this passage:

"We want users. Not only that, we want network users so we can to tie together all the services we offer. That's our business. We're not selling you operating systems or hardware on the side. Yahoo! Music Engine is a container for network media services."

You can tell Ian really believes in this product - aren't blogs great! And oh to have a job like that, where you love what you do for a living (OK, I'm getting there...slowly).

That's a wrap for another week!™