Home Weekly Wrapup, 26-30 March 2007

Weekly Wrapup, 26-30 March 2007

Here is a summary of the week’s Web Tech action on Read/WriteWeb.

Analysis Posts

This week Charles Knight released the March edition of his Top 100 Alternative Search Engines. As usual the list provoked a flurry of comments, with the Search Engine of the Month KoolTorch coming under a bit of scrutiny (mostly for being IE-only). But I think everyone agrees that Charles is doing an outstanding job with the list, which is now a benchmark for small search engines to aspire to.

In a Point/Counterpoint post this week, John Milan and I argued opposite sides of the coin for: Which is better, an offline Web App or an online Desktop App?.  Again, check out the comments for a great discussion. I’m not sure either of us won the argument. Perhaps, as Ash Maurya suggested, it was a draw:

“Great arguments on both sides but I agree with John that the web and desktop communities are on a path of convergence towards a model that offers the best of both worlds:

– Browser access for remote use and sharing with others as it is the lowest common denominator and

– Desktop experience when local for offline access, richer experience, privacy/confidentiality, integration, user control etc.”

In another post new R/WW author Phill Midwinter posed this intriguing question: Is Google a Semantic Search Engine? If you’ve been following our recent coverage of semantic technologies, such as Hakia and Segala, you will enjoy the robust discussion in the comments to Phill’s post.

Other analysis posts this week:

Events – ETech

This week we had the ETech conference in San Diego, one of O’Reilly Media’s flagship conferences. Alex Iskold was at ETech and reporting for Read/WriteWeb. Here are his posts:

The Apollo post got some great comments. One of Alex’s points (which I chose to highlight in the headline – so blame me for that!) was that, intentionally or not, Adobe is on a collision course with IE, Firefox and the rest of the Web Browsers. The comments had a number of pro and con Apollo thoughts. Here is one that caught my eye… aaron noted:

“I understand your perspective, but back up a second and look at the opportunity this presents to a company building applications for corporate clients (banks, hospital systems, medical device producers, etc.) Right now, a huge anti web app stigma exists within these industries.

Apollo is the trojan horse that can get Web 2.0 inside the enterprise.”

Startup Action

The highlight for me this week was Alex’s post on Numenta, an Artificial Intelligence startup led by Jeff Hawkins – who made a name for himself in the tech industry as the founder of Palm Computing and inventor of the Palm Pilot. He later founded Handspring, where he invented the Treo. Numenta is a very ambitious company dedicated to developing AI algorithms and software. Read Alex’s post carefully, because I get the feeling that Numenta is on the cusp of some big breakthroughs in web technology.

Other startups profiled:

Bigco News

This week the Yahoo Mail API launched, on top of the news that Yahoo Mail is now offering unlimited storage. 

Also Microsoft launched ZenZui, an interesting new mobile UI technology with a business model focused on its “ZoomSpace”.


Our poll this week asked What web apps would you like to see with offline access?. You could vote for more than one. Here are the results, in order of popularity:

Gmail 26% (316 votes) 

Google Docs & Spreadsheets 20% (250 votes) 

del.icio.us 10% (117 votes) 

Basecamp 9% (108 votes)

Flickr 9% (106 votes) 

YouTube 7% (90 votes) 

Netvibes 7% (81 votes) 

Last.fm 5% (64 votes) 

Other (please note in comments) 3% (41 votes)

30Boxes 2% (29 votes) 

MySpace 2% (23 votes)  

Several people also mentioned RSS Readers and Google Calendar. But no surprise that web email and online word processing/spreadsheets were the apps that most people want to use offline as well as online. Interesting that del.icio.us was third, reflecting perhaps its value as a research tool. I presume that also means those people would like access to web pages offline, at least those popular in del.icio.us. 

In a mini-poll last weekend, we also asked for your opinions on *Really* Alt Search Engines. We asked which of 10 “really alt search engines” do you think is the silliest/funniest/oddest? The ‘winner’ was Pupna, described as “The search engine puppy that retrieves exactly what you are searching for (and absolutely nothing else!)”. I have to agree that, as a search engine, it is very silly indeed – to quote Monty Python.

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

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