This week: Explaining Web 2.0 to normal people, Google Base, Yahoo Shoposhere, Amazon tags, Hypertext and the next 15 years.

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Explaining Web 2.0 to Normal People

Two excellent posts this week on the topic of presenting Web 2.0 to 'normal' people (i.e. non-geeks). I myself did this a couple of weeks ago, when I did a presentation about Web 2.0 to a group of New Zealand Government managers. My approach was to present Web 2.0 in ways that might be familiar to them. So I used MyYahoo as a prime example (RSS, podcasts, user-generated content, etc), and also Flickr, Creative Commons, Wikipedia, BBC Backstage, and finally (at which point I finally cracked and admitted is "a bit geeky"). I also mentioned other staples like Google, eBay and Amazon.

Anyway, Matt McAlister had a great post this week entitled How to present Web 2.0 ideas that resonate with non-technical people. Apart from being the first person this year to invoke the Information Superhighway (a dubious honour?), Matt also noted that mashups is a concept that people can relate to.

My book co-author Joshua Porter also gave a talk during the week, entitled Web 2.0 for the Rest of Us. He's got a podcast of it available (60MB!). Josh focused on the concept of 'hacking' in his speech, noting: "I made the argument that the history of the Web was all about hacking, and that hacking is really the only way to innovate."

Google Base - the good, the bad and the ugly

Google Base, a kind of classifieds service for anything and everything, was officially released this week and it got a mixed reception. Mike Arrington had the best headline of the week with this: Google Base Launched. Yuck. Others were also not impressed with the notion of a centralized database, including Bubblegum Generation and Yahooligan Alex Moskalyuk (who called Google Base "the Flickr of everything"). 

However in the end I was swayed by the long-term visions of Michael Parekh and Bill Burnham, who think Google is building a human directory layer on top of their machine-generated search results. As I concluded in my ZDNet blog:

Google Base may not be pretty to look at and it may be a centralized database, but the potential is there to turn it into a hugely valuable directory of structured content. Plus if they add APIs and start aggregating outside RSS feeds, then they could easily extend Google Base and remove the issues around it being a 'walled garden'.

Yahoo's Shoposhere and Amazon tags

Yahoo! released a shopping search and recommendations service early this week, called Shoposhere, and TechCrunch had the scoop:

"Yahoo is making a major push into search personalization and recommendations - the overall project is called “Shoposphere” and the major feature being released is called “Pick Lists“. Their goal is to move ecommerce towards what they call “me commerce”. Any registered Yahoo user can create a Pick List."

It has all the things you'd expect from a 2.0 service: RSS feeds, reviews, ratings, personalized lists, user profiles, sharing, comments, community. Tick all the boxes, Yahoo! is putting out some fine products these days.

Also released this week was Amazon's tagging, in which users will be able to apply tags to any item on the Amazon website. A user's tags will be collected under their profile. It took longer than expected for Amazon to introduce tagging, but then I can't think of many commercial websites as big as Amazon that do tagging - if you know of any, please leave a comment.

2.0 Post of the Week

Alex Barnett has been pumping out some excellent posts over the past couple of months and this one in particular caught my eye: Hypertext and the next 15 years. Apart from introducing the witty phrase "loser-generated content" to our growing Web 2.0 lexicon, Alex makes 10 bold predictions for 2020. Here's my favourite prediction:

"Evolutionary algorithms powering the majority of successful businesses, e.g the #1 attention service and market-making software will be powered by algorithms that no-one created and that no-one can understand. Algorithms become the new Internet rockstars"

Hmmm, that may come true sooner than we think according to the UN's telecommunications agency :-0

That's a wrap for another week!