6 min read

Web 2.0 : The Next generation Web

The following is something I wrote 14th Dec 2005, on my trial account with one of the earliest Web 2.0 spplication services, called backpackit.com

The site still continues to be a hot seller, with over 200,000 subscriptions. You can find the link to the original article here.

I post the whole content here, well coz I like my content in my own space! Now there is a feature that no web 2.0 application allows. Why can’t content reside separate from the service? Every application from gmail to backpackit, want you to trust them with your content. I think that should change, mebbe we shoul called that web 2.5?

What can people do with the web?

Why did this ubiquous concept of sharing information for free (and paid) catch so rapidly, that is is now considered the next greatest thing since sliced bread? What makes it so very exciting for millions across the world to share the small section of expertise that they possess with the rest of the world?

I have had the good fortune, to have been exposed to the web in its very early days (1994-1995). Back then, if you had the chance to browse a website, you were considered super-cool and you would be the talk of the school (yup, I was in high school at that time) for a whole month! You finally were considered a super-geek, who KNEW the NET! Pretty interesting when you consider that these days you have scores of 6th grade kids that scream, HTML and Javascript in their sleeps (I actually happen to know at least 2 13 year olds who do that!).
Humble beginings

We would use this hyper-cool browser called Lynx. You will have to manually establish a ppp connection to your local ISPs gateway (whose root password was usually set to root or root123 or thereabouts) using hyperterminal and then you would need use unix programs to access your mail, browse the net and that was about all you could do (once you discovered root access it was a different ball-game altogether though — think VPNs… meaning to say we ran our own ISPs! ). Security was of no concern since most of the hardware failed to provide connectivity forget security. Anyway a modem would cost around Rs 4000 (I usually got Rs 50 a month as pocket money — I would save 50% of that ) so no one was really connecting in and exploiting the gateway!

What made the web exciting then, was the ability to check out, what was there on some machine somewhere — the ability to access information from sources (mostly universities) that were located far beyond the realm of a 15 year old kid’s imagination. The excitement of finding a small exploit or a getting access to some cutting edge research material was enough to keep us making endless tries to get a stable connection and our eyes glued to our text-based browsers.
Web 1.0

Then, it was the rise of Netscape that redefined the NET as we knew it. Suddenly we could see images, we could hear music (mostly MIDI - that idea never struck on much), we could chat with people across the globe, could make friends from the farthest reaches of the human race. At one point of time, I had close to 200 people on my chat list on Yahoo Messenger, from London to Vladivastock, from Sydney to “some city” in Greenland.

The age of Netscape brought the entire human race closer together, people from different countries could interact without the physical presence. The concept of community thinking and collective thought gave the web an entirely new meaning. It slowly brought about the change in the way we work, we kept in touch with relatives in distant lands, it replaced the postal service for most uses, it brought down the call charges as VOIP slowly crept it. Such point of inflection usually generate a flurry of activity in the development community, which invariably leads to innovation and new technologies coming to production.
Web 2.0

Today, we are at such an inflection point. What is different this time around is that this change in the way of the web, is caused by huge commercial demand placed on the set of 10-year-old Web 1.0 technologies. The internet has entered our lives and entwined itself in such in-seperable ways into the fabric of human interaction that the users of the NET are now demanding more and more from the NET. It has moved from being a medium to keep a bunch of college professors in sync with each other, to a mammoth “web” that spans the globe and touches our lives in every which way possible.

So what are we talking about here? We talking shared computing. There will be a day, not very much in the future, when we will hire processing power, we will hire application services for those needs that we buy a computer and pay loads of licensing cost in the form of software fees.

Web 2.0 will place more importance of generation of content, distributing it to the destination, without having the need to spend too much effort on the user (No buying this software or that, maybe even, no buying any hardware at all). It is about collaborative working. Any task, can now be worked upon by any number of people, in any number of geographies. We are going beyond the realms of our physical-selves.

The past one year has seen the revival and slow maturation of a 10 year old technology that was part of HTTP 1.0. By now, if you have been doing any form of web programming you would have heard about AJAX and AHAH. Although the names given to these concept of web-programming are relatively new, the technology that is used here have been available since Web1.0 days.

So what is the novelty? What is the “new” thing?

The novelty is that the NET as we know it is ready for change, ready to take the next step in getting the human race closer, helping it communicate and collaborate better. A lot of tools have already emerged in the real world. Applications that are currently free services, but offer extremely interesting opportunities for revenue generation. The service that I am using to write this article for instance is a Web 2.0 based online document editor. Check out more such tools below

In summary, the last 2 to 3 years has taken the web from a static collection of web pages, to a dynamic data processing environment, to which human life is irrevocably intertwined, bring itself closer. Human interaction has left the physical limits of our bodies and expression of thought has taken a whole new meaning. So the question we should ask ourselves now should be

… What can people do with the Web?!


Application comparisons between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 (courtesy O’Reilly.com)

Web 1.0 Apps
>Britannica Online
>personal websites
>domain name speculation
>page views
>screen scraping
>content management systems
>directories (taxonomy)

Web 2.0 Apps
>Google AdSense
>search engine optimization
>cost per click
>web services
>tagging (“folksonomy”)
>Web 2.0

Browsers that support Ajax Safari 1.2 and above Konqueror Internet Explorer (and derived browsers) 5.0 and above (Mac OS 9 or X version not supported) Mozilla /Mozilla Firefox (and derived browsers) 1.0 and above Netscape 7.1 and above Opera 7.6 and above * Opera Mobile Browser 8.0 and above.

[tags]blah-blah, technology, web 2.0[/tags]