Home Web Trends: What’s New in 2009, Part 2

Web Trends: What’s New in 2009, Part 2

Last week we discussed some of the new trends we’re seeing on the Web in 2009: open data, structured data, apps that filter content effectively, real-time, personalization, mobile (especially location-based), and Internet of Things (the Web in real-world objects). We asked for your thoughts on these trends, along with your suggestions on what we should add. Also we were interested to know what products you’ve seen this year that are doing something new and ‘beyond Web 2.0’. In this post we look at some of your responses, to try to define further what defines this current era of the Web.

So What Else is New?

Other than the trends we’ve already listed, what else did our readers identify as new this year?

Babak Samii pointed out that in 2009 there has been an increase in “real, defined business models that can actually generate revenue.” MacStories agreed, noting that we’ll see many innovations in revenue models as a result.

Aaron Fulkerson of Mindtouch commented that “Web Oriented Architectures are redefining ROI and TCO for enterprises.” I had to google the second acronym (shows how long I’ve been out of the corporate world – it means “Total Cost of Ownership”). Aaron is right that enterprises are taking the Web seriously now for business apps – the slow rise in popularity of Google Apps in enterprises is evidence of this.

Willi commented that there is a “new lightweight” about the current Web. “There is a new granularity, atomicity and a kind of chemistry,” he remarked. He noted the way that people can “jump in Twitter from persons to hashtags to new interesting persons and their social bubble in real-time.” As examples, he pointed to products like Evernote (a note-taking app – our most recent review) and Mir:ror (we reviewed Mir:ror earlier today – it’s an Internet-enabled device which enables you to create actions on your computer via everyday objects such as coffee mugs and books). Willi noted that while they may appear to be relatively trivial products, “new use patterns and user benefits emerge” out of them.

Open Data… Except Export

Not everyone in our previous post agreed with the initial set of trends. RWW commenter William claimed that ‘open data’ is a misnomer, because users mostly cannot export their data from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Friendfeed, Google, et al. We wouldn’t go as far as William and label this “web”, however it’s fair to say that – as far as users go – the promise of open data far outweighs the reality.

Having said that, the other meaning of ‘open data’ is that it’s open for developers to build on top of. The plethora of Twitter apps built on top of Twitter’s API is evidence enough of this. While Jason Barone called this “a one-way stream back to their closed system, in the form of an API,” it’s better than what we had before – which was fewer APIs and not many Linked Data sets (see the Linked Data graph from just 2 years ago, in this recent post). So overall we’re encouraged that API data – or even better, Linked Data sets – will enable more and better connected web apps. This makes for a richer ecosystem of Web apps and social connections, which is a very good thing.

But point taken William and Jason, today for users the idea of ‘open data’ is half-realized at best. It won’t be truly open until we have data portability – when you own your identity and content on the Web.

Real-time in the Real World

So far much of the focus on real-time as a new(ish) trend on the Web has focused on trendy apps such as Twitter and FriendFeed. However, Andria Krewson pointed out in the comments to our last post that real-time will spread much further than the early adopters:

“Real-time is huge. Many companies are built on timed data dumps, with the timing affecting workflow and cash flow, but the always-on generation will soon pressure businesses to provide real-time online information. Banks that don’t post real balances in a timely way, or insurance companies that take weeks or months to process paperwork, or government agencies that don’t provide timely transparent data will face pressures from millennials demanding faster, more accurate information.”

On this note, a commenter called Joe remarked that we may be mis-using the term ‘real-time.’ “For the record,” said Joe, “none of those sites you mentioned are doing REAL real-time, they are simply doing interval-based polling for new data on the server.” Joe advised us to check out http://obama.collecta.com to see a good example of pushing to the browser using long-polling, not interval polling. We did indeed check that out, and wrote up our findings. While we were impressed that the search results were all less than a minute old, we’re not convinced that just more speed means a better form of real-time than Twitter or FriendFeed. Time will tell.

Note: for a very mathematical explanation of why Twitter isn’t really real-time, read this comment by Falafulu Fisi (made on a recent RWW post).


Well, there is no conclusion because the Web is an evolving beast. We’re excited to see open data becoming more prevalant, even if it hasn’t fully opened up yet. We’re excited to see real-time making such an impact this year. We’re excited about mobile and Internet of Things. There is a lot of innovation happening this year, which is pleasing to see.

Once again we invite you to list in the comments any other trends you’re noticing – and just as importantly, what products you’re seeing that exemplify these trends.

Here’s the original 5-minute presentation which kicked this series off:

Image credits: cartoon screenshot from Geek And Poke; nano:ztag by aaron schmidt

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