Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 15-21 August 2005

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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.”

Which would be a great example of a web app built on top of APIs from various
companies – Google, Yahoo, Feedburner, etc. Ben Barren says KlipFolio is an example of this kind of app.

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!

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