Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Web 2.0

Monday, September 6th, 2010

After reading Web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly I come to the conclusion that I agree with many of the points he presents in this essay. It goes through describing the evolution of the Web to its current state, from Netscape to the power house of Google and beyond.

He explains that the web is all about the user and how the user’s experience pushes the web forward.  He compares Netscape and Google, how one has essential replaced the other. Netscape was framed as a platform, but it wanted to be unique one of a kind in order to be dominant and have a high market price. It was a commodity not a service. They wanted to have high market price by being the only ones. This format didn’t last very long, because of what Google provide which is user friendly and provided a better experience for the user. Google is a service but one that is not sold and packaged. It is all about information and data, for without it Google can’t exist. It is all about applications and the users which use them.

O’Reilly states that the evolution from 1.0 to 2.0 was the increase in quality when it came to user friendly applications. These tools gave people more freedom on the web and in turn better the web as a whole. “The service automatically gets better the more people use it.” This is what web 2.0 is not packaged software but applications which update themselves. Applications which becoming better because of people like me and you which use them, not just because of the creators, we have become essentially part of the creating process.

Blogging is something which he also touches upon, the fact that we can now have personal pages with ideas. The ability to be able to become authors of our thoughts and opinions for everyone to see.  Rss feed is something which allows for free flowing discussions, and updates. O’Reilly states “User are co-developers, they shape the web”. This is what the web has become a place shaped by the people.

Web 2.0: Reactions, questions, etc.

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Initially, from the examples given by O’Reilly, Web 2.0 seemed like a more malleable version of Web 1.0.  The main idea I eventually gathered from his article is that the open source user-oriented nature of Web 2.0 has allowed it to dominate previous internet experiences, which I supposed isn’t too far from my first impression.  Not that I could have ever predicted how the internet would change from 2005 to 2010, but it seems logical that the “global brain” and “perpetual beta” approaches to improving the web would overtake more the more static environment of Web 1.0.

Some of O’Reilly’s ideas I found particularly compelling included references to the “head” and tail” of the internet, problems with copyright control, and O’Reilly’s discussion of “software above a single device.”

Without reading this article, I don’t think I would have ever considered there to be a “head” or “tail” to the Internet.  It’s an interesting analogy for the big and little guys of the web.  From the sounds of Web 2.0, however, and its movement toward catering to the user (I think?), it seems to me that a role reversal could be imminent on the digital front.  To be more specific, in 20 years, will the blog-savvy 12 year-olds of today be satisfied with taking a backseat to the “heads” of the net?  I don’t think so, at least not by the time they’re 32 and Web 5.0 (or an equivalent) has rolled onto the scene.

Now, about copyright control.  Obviously, there’ve been ongoing issues with it since O’Reilly wrote his article.  Amazon’s book reviews were one an example.  O’Reilly mentions how easy it is to copy book review information, and I definitely know I’ve searched for information before and seen identical text pasted between completely independent web pages.  In 2005, O’Reilly predicted “heightened attempts at control” with respect to copyrighted data, and he may be correct, although I think the nature of Web 2.0 would complicate this major endeavor.  How could a company possibly track every nook and cranny of web space to ensure their book reviews are safe?  It’s almost as though there’d be a need for some sort of Internet police.  I don’t really know how that would work, though, or if something like it already exists.

As for “software above a single device,” it surprised me a little when O’Reilly mentioned iTunes and iPod because (for whatever reason) both came to mind upon reading the section’s header.  After considering O’Reilly’s comparisons of Microsoft’s products (and software release cycle) vs. Google’s perpetually updating services, Apple’s iPod and iTunes seem brilliant as the duo encompasses the best of both worlds: a service associated with an optional product.  (Maybe this isn’t too enlightening for other people, but I’d certainly never considered how well the Apple family worked before.)  Furthermore, the idea of “software above a single device” brings me back to Gardner’s forecast of “web servers in our pockets.”  The fact that both O’Reilly and Gardner mention the use of web devices, in my opinion, makes me think the web is becoming something we no longer temporarily log into, but something we’re perpetually attached to (presently, I don’t think I’m comfortable with this idea—my phone doesn’t even text, and the digital distance is nice!)

Lastly, I was a little lost when O’Reilly discussed “lightweight programming models.”  I understood the ideas behind “hackability” and “remixability,” but the concept of “coupling” and “stacking” systems is a little beyond me.  To me, stacking and coupling sounds like the GIS examples O’Reilly gives where similar data is used by different web services (e.g. MapQuest vs. Google Maps), so that basic data is just delivered differently by different companies.  I could be way off with this interpretation, though.  Also, because I’m unaware of what the “traditional IT mindset” is, I don’t know what O’Reilly’s getting at when he contrasts it to “The Web 2.0 mindset,” which makes me think I could be missing an important point.

PS Sorry my posts are so long!  I’ll try to cut back in the future.

Pondering Web 2.0

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Reading “What Is Web 2.0” was slightly overwhelming for me. I’ve heard and briefly read about the term “Web 2.0” several times in the past, but I’ve never really gotten a sense of what it is outside of websites coined as “Web 2.0” until reading Tim O’Reilly’s essay.

O’Reilly packs a lot of history and examples into his essay, which is where I found myself feeling overwhelmed at times when I didn’t have the best idea to begin with about some of the topics he discusses (like Akamai, BitTorrent, Programming Models). However, there where still several points that reached out to me, and while I may not fully grasp all of the history/technological aspects behind them, here a few quotes from the essay I want to address (my citations are from a printed copy):

CC Image courtesy of Chema on Flickr

“…A key Web 2.0 principal: the service automatically gets better the more people use it” (5).

O’Reilly uses BitTorrent to illustrate this point, and the quote made me think back to the Web 1.0 — > Web 2.0 chart earlier in the essay (2), which I interpret as telling me Web 2.0 is an improvement on Web 1.0 technologies. Most of the Web 1.0 terms are pretty foreign to me. I may have an idea of what they are, but little experience with using them. Instead, my web presence has been developed around the Web 2.0 side of the chart with tools like Flickr, Wikipedia, blogging, tagging and other sites where users have, create and share power. From my encounters with these sites, I can recognize how the service can be positively influenced by the amount of people who can extract and/or contribute by using them. I may know about sites like Britannica Online and from my earliest days on the web, but I haven’t utilized them in years in favor of sites where I discovered I could extract or contribute, which is connected to another point of O’Reilly’s…

“The greatest internet success stories don’t advertise their products. Their adoption is driven by ‘viral marketing–’ that is, recommendations propagating directly from one user to another” (7).

Word of mouth is how I found out about the majority of sites I use (like Flickr, Twitter, Wikipedia, Wikis). I discovered a lot of these in the classroom setting when professors used some of these sites to have students contribute and share our ideas. Often, I also begin exploring and using other sites after viewing the work other people are doing on them that they have linked to their Twitter or Facebook accounts. It’s a small point in the essay, but one to which I could relate.

“The world of Web 2.0 is also the world of…’we, the media,’ a world in which “the former audience,” not a few people in a back room, decides what’s important” (9) and “What applications become possible when our phones and cars are not consuming data, but reporting it? Real time traffic monitoring, flash mobs and citizen journalism are only a few of the early warning signs of the capabilities of the new platform” (15).

In his conclusion, O’Reilly outlines the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies, which includes harnessing collective intelligence and trusting users as co-developers. From this, I’m drawn back to his points of “we, the media” and “citizen journalism.” Web 2.0 gives us as users the opportunity to interact in user-friendly environments that are open to everyone. In these environments, we can share, collaborate and consume; we can report news and even make the news as we do this. On September 1, a gunman held hostages at the Discovery Channel’s Headquarters in Washington D.C.  A day later, the Washington Post ran a story with the headline “Twitter breaks story on Discovery Channel James Lee.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The news of a gunman at the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Silver Spring indeed traveled fast on Wednesday, but none of it came through radio, TV or newspaper Web sites, at least not at first. As it has with other breaking news events — the landing of a jet on the Hudson River in 2009, the 2008 massacre in Mumbai — the story unfolded first in hiccupping fits and starts on Twitter, the much-hyped micro-blogging service that has turned millions of people into worldwide gossips, opinion-mongers and amateur news reporters.

Web 2.0 gives us the power to “put ourselves out there” and share our experiences and perspectives with others in ways Web 1.0 didn’t, from breaking news situations to glimpses of our personal lives. This amazes me, but I also sense some danger with this. “Warning signs,” the term O’Reilly uses, sounds negative, and I wonder if we’ll eventually arrive at a point where there is too much of this going on and we can’t keep up with it or where the credibility of the journalist and citizen journalist are at odds/sacrificed because of the Web 2.0 environment we’ve created.

Lastly, the quote from the “web developer at a major online service” surprised me:

CC Image courtesy of Yilka on Flickr

“We put up one two or three new features on some part of the site every day, and if users don’t adopt them, we take them down. If they like them, we roll them out to the entire site,” as did the revelation that Flickr “Deploys new builds up to every half hour” (12). I wish O’Reilly had expanded more on this. I like the idea that “users must be treated as co-developers,” but how do we keep up with all these changes?  I came across a site that lists 50 Web 2.0 Twitter Applications and Sites, and coupled with these quotes from O’Reilly’s essay, it made me wonder if all of these really necessary. There seem to be so many options associated with Web 2.0, which I like, but at the same time I don’t know how to absorb all of them. Are we moving too fast with this? O’Reilly’s essay gave me a better understanding of what is and isn’t meant by Web 2.0, but it’s been five years since he wrote it, and I also wonder: when does the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 occur, and what does that entail? I guess my biggest question after reading O’Reilly’s essay is what happens next?