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This week: New apps on the block, Schools and the Web, Kids and Web 2.0, API magic, Outsourcing your PC.
New Apps on the Block
Lots of start-up action this week. Two ones that caught my eye were Flock and Wordpress.com.
Flock is described as a "social web browser". Considering that the browser market hasn't had any decent innovation since Firefox burst onto the scene in November 2004, Flock sounds intriguing. Indeed Flock started off as a company, then named Round Two, building Firefox extensions (I wrote about them in this April post). SiliconBeat reports that Flock is a browser "aimed at making it easy for the Web 2.0 crowd to blog, post photos, etc." Roland Tanglao has more details - he was blown away. Will Pate also has a write-up. So yes, Flock sounds fascinating and I've signed up for an invite.
Wordpress.com is a hosted version of the open source blogging tool, Wordpress. It sounds like it'll give Six Apart's TypePad product a run for its money, especially if it's free (as SiliconBeat say it is). Not that Six Apart is standing still - Movable Type 3.2 sounds like a big step forward in functionality and TypePad has new features too. Andrew Watson is tracking the Wordpress.com news.
P.S. Keep an eye out for the TechCrunch profiles of Flock and Wordpress.com. The TechCrunch crew have been making their presence felt over in Silicon Valley - my brothers! Also check out their latest Web 2.0 This Week.
Schools and the Web
One of the kicks I get out of my blog is tracking how people in The Real World are using Web 2.0 technologies. One of the most active groups is teachers and people in the education system. Cole Camplese's Learning & Innovation blog is a good example. Cole works at Penn State University, in the School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). Web 2.0 is at the core of a class he teaches called IST 110. He explained:
"I will once again use the class blog for the primary communication area, but will extend it to give each their own accounts and spaces. I will be doing quite a bit of podcasting - both my own and expecting them to produce a bunch. I will be testing my enclosure bundles with them as well! I’ll use digital video again so they can communicate their solutions in ways beyond text - and I think I will do a little more of it."
Man, I wish my INFO 110 course in the early 90's had been that exciting (for the record, it was more boring than ECON 101).
Another recent educator that has been talking about Web 2.0 is Noah Brier's Mum, Barbara Rubin Brier. Noah posted an email from his Mum, which outlined her thoughts about how schools are using the Web. Looking ahead 25-30 years, Barbara thinks "the people in our classrooms will not be teachers of content knowledge, but facilitators of learning that will be entirely web-based."
Kids and Web 2.0
Alexander Muse asks an interesting question:
"...does the fact that many of us who were active in the first Web boom now have children affect the direction of the web?"
I'd say the social nature of the current Web and the maturity of the industry now (compared to the craziness of dotcom times) is indeed affecting how Web 2.0 is panning out. Our little Web is growing up ;-)
The magic of APIs
This week I wrote a post summarising some recent articles about APIs. I want to highlight that theme again here in my Weekly Wrap-Up, so I thought I'd provide a few more examples of APIs in action.
Firstly James MacAonghus' analysis of Expedia, the online travel planning and flight-booking site. James thinks Expedia is more than that, saying it's "a heavyweight ecommerce and search website in its own right". He thinks that APIs would help Expedia compete with the big Internet companies:
"If Expedia could roll out an API platform of its own, it could at least fight it out with Google (and Yahoo and anyone else who will join the fray). At best, Expedia could increase its reach and range of services in ways impossible to a single company."
Of course Google, Yahoo and others won't sit back and wait for Expedia to catch up - they will forge ahead with new APIs. As Mark Sigal wrote in his RSS as a Web 2.0 platform article:
"... I would expect that fierce competition for developer mindshare between Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay will continue to push these folks to open up more and more of their APIs. [...] My bet is that before too long, the filtration, personalization and ad serving functions get reduced to an API that a developer can plug into their application."
Finally, Brad Feld's been thinking of APIs too. He wants a "CIO dashboard" view across all his data:
"Much of this data is “open” and freely available via APIs and web services although some isn’t easy to get."
Techie Post of the Week: Outsource your PC
John Clingan has an interesting view on how to reduce spam and viruses on the Web - outsource your home PC by having all its software hosted on the Web. As Stephen O'Grady pointed out in the comments, this is known as the "thin client model". John wrote:
"I haven't been following the Web 2.0 discussion at all, but when I think of Web 2.0, I think of a web with security first and foremost. Every client has a certificate. Every server has a certificate. Email is safe. No spyware. No SPAM. OK, not entirely true, but there is some level of accountability. We have a thread to follow. If you want to be anonymous, back out to Web 1.0 and die a death by a thousand paper cuts. Support yourself, don't come to me."
I'm not entirely sure I follow John's reasoning here - it would be great if he explained it a bit more. But I think I see where he's coming from. It's similar to my SoulWeb post, in which I mused that one's PC will in future be hosted on the Web.
In many ways that will be the zenith of Web 2.0 - when the Web is a platform for our entire computing experience.
That's a wrap for another week!