Originally we planned to pick the most promising Web company for 2008. But in the end the ReadWriteWeb team decided to follow the example set by Time magazine last year, when it named "You" as its 'Person of the Year'.
Likewise we think there is no single Web company that is more promising than... the open source movement, a loose-knit group that aims to make a huge impact by tying all Web companies together.
We've seen many examples of the open source movement ramping up on the Web this year:
- Web browsers; Mozilla's Firefox web browser is perhaps the best example, having made significant ground on Microsoft's proprietary browser in '07. And just this week Opera picked a legal fight with Microsoft in Europe, citing lack of open source standards as one of its complaints.
- Social networks have begun to open up; Facebook's platform, followed by Google's OpenSocial (a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web) and now seemingly every social network is opening their platform. None of these are completely open, but the trend is for that to eventually happen.
- The drive towards open standards on the Mobile Web; Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C continue to push for this. And as Rudy De Waele wrote on this blog, mobile 2.0 is about "open standards, open-source development and open access - creating more options for the user, not enclosing them in the walled gardens currently (still) used by operators."
Android Mobile OS here, the open-source mobile operating system that Google announced in November this year. Android will be available for any phone manufacturer to install and build on top of. It will allow for extensive use of Google applications, mashups based on those applications combined with third party apps and will in time live on portable devices other than phones, like car navigation systems.It's worth mentioning
- Microformats, the Web community's open standards for structured data, has a lot of promise - expect to see them implemented in not only Firefox but IE and the other browsers next year.
OAuth recently released what they hope will be the final draft of their 1.0 version. The OAuth spec will create a standardized way for applications to request permission for access to user info from other applications and for info-holding services to communicate clear rules and options for accessing parts of the data they hold.- The distributed group of developers working on the Open Authentication spec
We could name more open source opportunities for the Web in 2008 (and please add them in the comments), but Alex Iskold summed up the potential for 'open data' with this diagram:
As Alex wrote here: "The old perception is that closed data is a competitive advantage. The new reality is that open data is a competitive advantage. The likely solution then is to stop worrying about protecting information and instead start charging for it, by offering an API."
So overall, we think 2008 will be a bumper year for the Open Source movement on the Web. What do you think? What other parts of the Web are ripe for open source initiatives next year?