Web 2.0

It is about a decade since Web 1.0 with Mosaic and the works. The world so far has been largely HTML-driven. John Robb discusses what Web 2.0 would look like:

What is Web 2.0? It is a system that breaks with the old model of centralized Web sites and moves the power of the Web/Internet to the desktop. It includes three structural elements: 1) a source of content, data, or functionality (a website, a Web service, a desktop PC peer), 2) an open system of transport (RSS, XML-RPC, SOAP, P2P, and too an extent IM), and 3) a rich client (desktop software). Basically, Web 2.0 puts the power of the Internet in the hands of the desktop PC user where it belongs.

So far, we have made excellent progress on the first two elements necessary for Web 2.0, yet the remaining element has undergone an abortive development path. The primary reason for this is due to Microsoft’s dominance of the browser market which has resulted in stasis. Additionally, both VCs and developers have been frozen in fear of fighting Microsoft on the desktop. Regardless, the Web 2.0 desktop applications I had hoped for years ago haven’t arrived in sufficient numbers. Fortunately, the tide is about to shift.

Three development paths are now in contention. The first is a desktop Web site approach (Radio). A second is an enhanced browser method (Flash, see picture). A third is a custom desktop application (.Net and nifty custom apps like Brent’s NetNewsWire). I suspect that all three approaches will gain traction over the next couple of years, but my personal preference (for a myriad of reasons) is to put a CMS (Web site content management system) on the desktop and leverage the limitations of the browser to provide an enhanced experience. This makes it possible for a seamless transition for users from the Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Regardless, it is extremely nice to see motion.

I think the new web will have the following characteristics:

– it will be publish-subscribe driven, with RSS and microcontent at its heart

– the focus will be on information which is frequently updated, needs repeat distribution to an interested audience, is incremental, and requires near real-time delivery

– it will emerge in the world’s emerging markets because there is very little legacy (among the new computer users)

– it will have RSS, IMAP and web services at its heart

Adam Bosworth imagines a key component of Web 2.0: “It does have “pages” but it also has a local cache of information garnered from the web services to which these pages are bound and the two are distinct. Related, but distinct.” He discusses an example of an offline/online calendar powered by web services.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.