Dan Gillmor writes:
We are barely a decade and a half into the existence of the web, the network of networks intertwined around our ever-smaller planet. The elemental units havent changed much, but the webs functions have evolved in a dramatic way.
The first web was fairly static, and it was basically a read-only affair. For the most part, wed simply download text and images from remote sites that were updated periodically with new text and graphics.
There were hints, early on, of what was to come.
When we used a commerce site such as Amazon, or a search site such as AltaVista, the computer on the other end would do some calculating; we were using their machines remotely to do work for us.
The first big shift – to what I prefer to consider version 2 – came when the web became more of a read-write system. This was a huge change, and its still in progress.
The big change in the read-write sphere came about because of applications such as weblogs, the personal journals that put newer material at the top, and wikis, sites on which anyone can edit any page. Not only could people make their own sites, but they could update them easily and rapidly.
Blogs have been especially important in the world of the read-write web.
They are far more than the what I ate for breakfast diaries of cliche; they have become a key part of a growing, complex global conversation.
We are moving quickly beyond text and pictures in this version of the web, to audio and video.
The cost of the gear we need to make high-quality content is plummeting while the power and ease of use continue to grow.
And then comes the latest web. This is where it gets really interesting.
The emerging web is one in which the machines talk as much to each other as humans talk to machines or other humans. As the net is the rough equivalent of a computer operating system, were learning how to program the web itself.
A variety of web APIs, offered by companies such as Google, Yahoo! Amazon and others, is letting programmers create new kinds of applications by wiring together various functions into what are called web services.