Sunday, February 12, 2006

Introduction to web 2.0
Web 2.0 is a term referring to the ongoing transition to a full participatory Web, with participation including both humans and machines. Web 2.0 is characterized by the following themes:

The Read/Write Web: In which the Web is seen as a two-way medium, where people are both readers and writers. The main catalyst for this is social software, allowing communication and collaboration between two or more people.

The Web as Platform: In which the Web is seen as a programming platform upon which developers create software applications. The main catalyst for this is Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, allowing communication between two or more software applications.

It is important to recognize, however, that "Web 2.0" is not anything other than the evolving Web as it exists today. It is the same Web that we've had all along. But the problems, issues, and technologies we're dealing with are in many ways different, and so using the term "Web 2.0" is recognition that the Web is in a constant state of change, and that we have entered a new era of networked participation.

Web 2.0 provides a dynamic behavior of an application. This means you can include the BBC’s latest news headlines on your site. It means people can keep track of your job vacancies on their desktop. It means instead of having a static map on your contact page you can include a map from Google that can be annotated, dragged around, and zoomed in and out. Ultimately, it means people will no longer need to get your information directly from your web site.

The Original Web 2.0 Companies
The Four Horsemen of Web 2.0
These four companies known for amazing innovation best demonstrate the essence of Web 2.0. Instead of suffering the fate of the other Dot Coms, they thrived through the downturn by leveraging the principles of Web 2.0. Their success is so widely known that it is now taken for granted, while their databases of customer information have become a growing privacy concern.

Google provides many characteristic Web 2.0 services: Blogger, Adsense, Maps, Search, Base, Gmail, GTalk, Reader, and Statistics. Each of these services either exploits the read/write Web or the Web as Platform.

Nearly all of the services that Yahoo provides leverage Web 2.0 principles: Mail, Music Downloads, Movie Recommendations, Shopping, Maps, Local.

Amazon's Affiliates program, Reviews, People Who Bought This Also Bought..., and wish list sharing were early and influential Web 2.0 services. Their new Mechanical Turk service is another Web 2.0 gem.

eBay provides many buyer and seller services that aim for greater participation. Their API is one of the most successful, and the network effects they enjoy from their large user base are unrivaled.

New Exemplars of Web 2.0
New companies and services embracing the principles of Web 2.0.
These companies are by no means an exhaustive list, but are leading the pack. They provide popular software and services that have proved their worth among the competition.

Flickr is a fast-growing photosharing service that provides a collaborative user interface as well as a powerful API to its content. (Recently acquired by Yahoo!)

• is a popular social bookmarking service. Joshua Schacter, the founder, characterizes his service as a way to remember things. (Recently acquired by Yahoo!)

Jotspot provides several services: Jotspot - the Application Wiki, which allows users to create and share wiki-like web pages. JotLive - a live group note-taking application.

37Signals provides several services: Basecamp - a project collaboration tool and Backpack - a collaborative tool to create sharable web pages.

Digg is a content aggregation service. It provides a mechanism for its many users to "digg" a piece of content, and aggregates them like votes to bubble up the most popular content to its widely-viewed pages. In this way Digg culls the actions of its users to provide value.

Writely is a web-based service that allows for the creation and sharing of documents in a sophisticated word-processor-like interface.

Feedburner is an RSS publishing service. Sites can direct their readers to a feed at Feedburner instead of hosting it themselves; taking advantage of Feedburner's advanced tracking capabilities to provide insight into who is reading your feed.

A practical example: Google Maps
Released in early 2005, Google Maps is a web service from the ever-present search company. On the surface it looks like a web site that has some clever maps you can drag around, zoom into and out of, and so on. But there’s something extra-special going on behind the scenes: Google Maps has an API.

Stafffinders’ contact page, complete with maps.
This allowed Mercurytide to do something special in a recent web site redesign for Stafffinders, a recruitment company. On the contact page we use Google Maps to show the locations of their offices. The maps sit in the middle of the page and fully look a part of the Stafffinders site. For a few hours’ work Stafffinders have highly-detailed maps that people can play around with: you can zoom out to see their offices in relation to one another, and you can drag the map around to find the closest railway station or to see how far the office is from your home. This is Web 2.0 in action.


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