Home Weekly Wrapup, 18-22 Feb 2008

Weekly Wrapup, 18-22 Feb 2008

Here is a summary of the week’s Web Tech action on ReadWriteWeb. For those of you reading this via our website, note that you can subscribe to the Weekly Wrapups, either via the special RSS feed or by email.

Web Trends

Why Google Apps is a Serious Threat to Microsoft Office

Bernard Lunn wrote that he is a “skeptical, later early adopter”; the sort of person who Microsoft needs to retain and should have been able to retain easily. He doesn’t spend time on productivity tools that may at some date make him more productive, but which today are just a frustrating time sink. That describes the majority of people. MS Office can be annoying, but it does work. So any serious alternative has to offer a significant advantage and at the same time make adoption a total breeze. Bernard thinks Google Apps has reached that point. The significant advantage is collaboration.

Reaching for the Sky Through The Compute Clouds

Last Friday, a massive outage occured at Amazon Web Services that generated a wave
of negativity
and criticism in the blogosphere. Not long ago, Rackspace, one of the world’s largest hosting companies, experienced a outage that resulted in a similar reaction. When the backbone collapses, so do our favorite services. This makes
us mad. It makes us say things like: well, maybe we shouldn’t be using the cloud. Or things
like: why can’t we get 99% uptime? Or: isn’t this what an SLA is for?

Alex Iskold explores…

Fail: Social News on World Events, Like Cuba

Here’s a test for Web 2.0. Cuba’s Fidel Castro announced yesterday morning that he is resigning from his post as ruler of that communist country. What better way to celebrate the departure of an authoritarian dictator than to look at how the free flow of information in online social media provided coverage of the event? Or, depending on your take on Castro, what better way to celebrate a populist leader in the international fight for social justice and against imperialism than to look at the people-powered social media reaction?

Unfortunately, wrote Marshall Kirkpatrick, we could use some better results.

Are National ID Cards Going to Snuggle Up With OpenID?

The REAL ID Act of 2005 is said by some to pave the way for a United States National ID Card and has come under heavy criticism from a wide range of people in the US. Some recent developments indicate that a National ID card could be tied to the federated authentication standard called OpenID.

At the most basic level, this would mean that you could sign in with your National ID card to all the websites where today you can login with a Yahoo! or AIM or other OpenID. Hmmm…

Are U.K. Users Burning Out on Social Networking?

According to the Guardian, the three largest social networks in the U.K., MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo, all experienced large drops in membership between December, 2007 and January, 2008. Is this one month of falling numbers a fluke or have the networks reached a plateau? Says, Alex Burmaster, Nielsen Online analyst, “One month of falling audiences doesn’t spell the decline of Facebook or social networking. However, most of the leading social networks are less popular in the U.K. than they were a year ago.”


Web Products

Top 10 Last.fm Mashups

Last.fm is generally acknowledged to be one of the best web apps of this era – its music recommendation system literally creates a personalized radio station for you. But the now CBS-owned service doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its API. We’ve heard stories about how 90% of Twitter’s use comes from its API. Well, Last.fm also has an API that is used by many external services to add value for end users.

In this post we list 10 of our favorites, but there are many more of them to explore. We invite you to add your favorites in the comments, along with a note about why you like them.

Top Health 2.0 Web Apps

Health 2.0, web-based apps and services for the healthcare sector, is a nascent but potentially huge market for web 2.0. As of now, many of these apps have an emphasis on communication, information sharing and community. These are relatively easy things to address using Web tools. However we’re starting to see health 2.0 apps try to tackle the enormous inefficiencies in the healthcare system – check out our description of Carol.com below. Also, in the longer term, we will see the Web being used in medical diagnosis and practice.

Getting Healthy With Google – Google Health Pilot Program

Google this week announced a pilot program (read: closed beta) of their health records application. The program will be conducted at Cleveland Clinic hospital in Cleveland, Ohio and will include under 10,000 patients. The pilot program will run six to eight weeks with the eventual goal to roll the program out to a broader user base if the test is a success. While there are certainly upsides to having medical records stored in a single, patient-accessible location, there are also serious privacy concerns.

Scribd Launches New Platform and iPaper, a New Format for Web Docs

Scribd, the online document sharing site, announced today the creation of a new document format built for the web, dubbed iPaper. This web-based viewer lets you view documents in a browser using a Flash-based widget, with no need for software downloads. Also launched this week is the Scribd platform, a set of tools that lets anyone use iPaper on their own internal web site.

Mosso: Cloud Computing for the Rest of Us

Outages aside, there’s no doubt that the rise of web scale computing platforms, like Amazon’s EC2 and S3 services, have lowered the barrier of entry for Internet startups. Going completely serverless would have been unheard of during the late-90s dot com boom, but new cloud computing platforms have made it possible for small companies to scale quickly, easily, efficiently, and cost effectively. However, even if services like Amazon’s have made hosting and scaling a web app more simple, there is still a good deal of server management involved. Enter Mosso, a Rackspace-backed company that merges the idea of cloud computing with the familiarity of a managed, shared environment.


Digital Lifestyle News at last100

This week on last100 the main feature was a guest post by Gerd Leonhard (author of “Music2.0“, co-author of “The Future of Music” and CEO of Sonific.com) titled ‘Flat Rate or Flat Line – further thoughts on the Music Flat Rate.’ Gerd states the case for a flat rate for digital music (something last100 has been calling a “music tax”) and how it would solve the music sharing “problem”.

In a post titled ‘Blu-ray wins format war – much longer HD download battle lies ahead‘ last100 reported on the news this week that Toshiba is to cease production of HD DVD players and recorders, meaning that the next generation DVD format war is over and Blu-ray wins. However, a much longer battle lies ahead – HD downloads – leading some to argue that the next-gen DVD format war is irrelevant. That in the future consumers won’t buy physical media, they’ll purchase and download it over the Internet. True but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.


The top stories this week from ASE:

That’s a wrap for another week! Enjoy your weekend everyone.

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