This week: Defining Web 2.0, Web-based office, Yahoo media/tv, Google Wifi, Techie Post of the Week: Tim O'Reilly's What is Web 2.0.
Defining Web 2.0
A lot of online trees were felled this week to write about what Web 2.0 means. Tim O'Reilly's definition is a very comprehensive one and is more satisfying than his valiant attempt at a compact definition. Barb Dybwad wrote an impressive social software-based definition, which is a good companion piece to Danah Boyd's two posts so far. Dion Hinchcliffe and Ken Yarmosh are doing sterling work rounding up the wide variety of Web 2.0 definitions going on. TechCrunch as always is right on top of the latest Web 2.0 developments. Then you have Josh Porter and yours truly doing our analysis thing, as well as smart people like Cristian Vidmar and Alex Barnett. There's a lot of great Web 2.0 explanations out there...OK there are a lot of posts questioning the Web 2.0 meme too. I don't mind that at all, as long as they're constructive posts like Jay Fienberg's.
My post entitled The Web-based Office will have its day on ZDNet got a lot of attention this week, thanks to a Slashdotting. In the post I listed down a group of the latest Web-based Office apps (most of them AJAX-based) and summarized:
"The time for the web-based office will come, mark my words. When broadband is ubiquitous, web functionality is richer, issues of security and reliability have been put to rest, and most importantly of all - when Corporates are ready to make the jump. It may be 5-10 years down the track, it may be longer."
I must stress that I don't see web-based apps eating Microsoft's lunch anytime soon - 5-10 years is a minimum. Also as Phil Wainewright pointed out, web-based apps are most suited to be "collaborative, virtual workspaces" rather than personal productivity apps like Microsoft Office. That's a good point, although I still think web-based apps will in the long-run usurp PC-based apps. But then I'm one of those people who thinks everything will be handled in "the cloud" in future - even identity. It's not a particularly mainstream view, I admit that.
Also in ZDNet this week I wrote about Yahoo's media plans and in particular the work they're doing to converge the Web and television. There are four pillars to their strategy: Search, Community (content contributed by "everyday users and semiprofessionals like bloggers"), Professionally created content, and Personalization technology.
I think there's a lot of potential for interactivity and creativity to surface from outside traditional quarters (Hollywood in particular) with Yahoo's Web television. Already we're seeing users take control of their television experience with TiVo and Media Center. It sounds like Yahoo! has plans to take that up another level, with even more Web added to the TV (re)mix.
Google's plans to cover San Francisco with free wireless high-speed Internet access was big news in the blogosphere this week. The AP thinks this will create "a springboard for the online search engine leader to leap into the telecommunications industry" and will be "a testing ground for a national WiFi service." That view was denied by the Google spokesman in the AP article. Google does admit though that San Francisco will be a test-ground for "new location-based applications and services". Note that there are also potential privacy issues.
Om Malik thinks this could have major implications: "The Google Talk implications on a free network are quite far reaching, if you ask me, but then that’s just me."
Ben Barren has an interesting take on this: "Is search and wifi connected to one another at google at the 'operational strategy level' ? I dont think so. Could they be connected ? Well g-duh, yes."
Techie Post of the Week: Tim O'Reilly's What is Web 2.0
Well it goes without saying, but I think the What is Web 2.0 essay by Tim O'Reilly is significant. It's impossible to summarize, so I recommend you take some time and read it through. If there was one extract I had to highlight, it'd be this [talking about "Software Above the Level of a Single Device"]:
"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."
That's a wrap for another week!