Web 2.0 in Plain English
There are a lot of confusing terms in the ongoing conversation about
Web 2.0. The goal of this document is to explain what these terms
mean in a way that is accessible to everybody.
For each of the terms, we will ask some questions, look at the Old Way
of thinking and the New Way of thinking, and then take a look at
some examples and lessons learned that you can take away and use
This document is sorted alphabetically for ease of reference.
Accountability (of the Media, Government, and Corporations) is
shifting “from the Center to the Edge.”
Question(s): There are now more people watching than ever before. And
they’re armed...with blogs.
Old Thinking: In the Old Thinking, central institutions were held accountable by
regulation or by infrequent elections or by shareholder meetings.
New Thinking: In the New Thinking, regular people are becoming the fact-
checkers and “watchers” of business, non-profits, and governments.
Example(s): Michael Geist in Toronto published a single blog post that
triggered a series of blog posts and media stories that resulted in a 6,000 vote
swing in a riding in Ontario for MP Samantha Bulte over her “transparent”
conflict of interest in the Digital Rights debate.2 In an example of corporate
accountability, try Googling “U-Haul” or “Kryptonite Lock” and look at the top ten
Lesson(s): Do the right thing. If you don’t, “they” will see it.
Tags: Center to Edge, Social Media, We The Media, Dan Gillmor, Economics, Public Relations, Reputation
AJAX is technology that lets developers make better, faster web
Question(s): Do you think that your desktop applications are always going to
be better than applications that you can find on the web?
Old Thinking: Desktop applications are the easiest to use and the fastest.
New Thinking: Some web applications have incredible functionality, great
speed, and amazing ease of use and that is a direct result of something called
AJAX which programmers use to build applications that are faster and easier to
Example(s): Google Mail, Google Maps. Zimbra is an utterly amazing
application that is an Outlook/Exchange replacement for companies. The
interface is fantastic and much more useable than Outlook/Exchange.
Lesson(s): It is possible to have fast, beautiful web applications. Accept
Tags: User experience: Slow to Fast, Processing Power: Center to Edge, Latency: High to Low
Architecture of Participation (need ref) means building things
in a way that encourages people to contribute and participate
Question(s): How do people participate when the software they use isn’t
designed to let them do so? How do people collaborate on their spreadsheets
easily? How do people co-create marketing materials quickly and simply? For
the most part, they don’t because the tools are designed for stand-alone use.
Old Thinking: Most software was designed for people to use alone. Even if
they were connected at the same time as others, they would never know it.
New Thinking: Your users should have the ability to see who else is “there”, to
work with them in an ad-hoc manner, and to find their colleagues, no matter
where they are physically located.
Example(s): Wikis are a great example of this principle. They are designed
from the ground up as places for people to collaborate.
Lesson(s): Build for participation. Build “awareness” and “presence” into your
systems. Make it easy for people to work together no matter what your tools do.
Tags: Social Media, Wikis, Presence
Blogs are a communication channel to your ecosystem. They are the
de-facto mechanism for having across-the-web public conversation
and debate. If you’re not blogging, you are not conversing.
Question(s): How do you converse with your ecosystem? Through your PR
department? Or through the 30 second sound bites that emerge from your two
hour interviews? Or through your “messaging?” Answer: None of those modes
are useful for conversing – they’re only useful for “talking at” people.
Old Thinking: Blogs are a fad and they are distracting to our business. They
are not really all that important. Not all businesses need them. And besides,
what if our employees say something bad and embarass our company?
New Thinking: There is a global conversation happening. The mechanism for
joining that conversation has turned out to be the blog. “There’s no better
ambasaddor for Sun Microsystems than an employee,” said Sun CEO Jonathan
Schwartz in a recent interview.
Example(s): IBM, Microsoft, Sun and many other companies have blogs.
Lesson(s): Create your policy. Build your system. Find your internal alpha
bloggers. Get out there and join the conversation. Welcome to the conversation.
Tags: blog, conversation, corporate blogging, public relations
Cumulative Learning: “Standing on the shoulders of giants”
Questions: Can your users learn fast by building upon each other’s
knowledge? What can you do to enable this?
Old Thinking: Start your project on your own. Work on your own. Learn on
your own. If you do build on the work of others, that work may take months to
get through your peer-reviewed journals
New Thinking: Build on the work of others. Quickly. With the advent of the
open source movement and tools such as wikis, people are able to build on the
knowledge of others more quickly than ever before.
Example(s): Wikipedia.org, the experiment that quickly overtook Encyclopedia
Brittanica as the largest encyclopedia in the world.
Lesson: Let your ecosystem share and build knowledge easily and quickly.
Give them access to forums, wikis, blogs, and other light-weight knowledge
management tools. Let them teach each other and accelerate their learning.
Tags: Individual to Group; Social
Database of Intentions: When you track every single thing a
person does online, every query, every request, you end up with a
picture of their desires, wants, needs, and drives – something that
they may not even explicitly recognize.
Questions: Do you track what your users do - wWhere they go, which features
they use, how long they stay, what they ask for?
Old Thinking: Build an application. Ship it on CD. Forget about it. Build another
New Thinking: Build something. Instrument it heavily so that you know what
people are doing with it. Watch them. Learn from them. Begin to understand the
patterns of their desires and goals and motivations and dreams.
Example(s): If you take every single Google or Yahoo or MSN search that you
have ever made and look at it in a time sequence...what would it say about who
you are or who you aspire to be?
Lesson: When software is hosted (not downloaded or shipped), you can learn
more about your users than you ever thought.
Tags: Attention trust, Usage pattern data
Dynamic database driven websites are replacing static HTML
based websites. Hand-coding is dead. All websites should be sitting on
top of databases. The era of the “web page” is gone. And your
employees should be able to add content without sending it to the
Questions: Does your website dynamically (and in real-time) adjust to its
users? Why not?
Old Thinking: Build your website once. Then when you need to change it, call
the “webmaster” or “website guy/gal” and have them make some changes.
New Thinking: Build a website structure and then let your employees manage
the site and add content to it from then on.
Example(s): Drupal/Bryght, Plone, Expression Engine are some examples of
dynamic website platforms.
Lesson: Static HTML sites are dead. Use a dynamic platform. Make it easy for
your employees and partners to manage their own content and they will
because it will make their lives easier.
Tags: HTML, static, dynamic
Free Your Data: Give up control of your data, and let people
connect to it and build on it. This is your new source of wealth – hard
to recreate databases that you didn’t build
Question(s): Do you fiercely guard your data? Is it considered more precious
than the crown jewels in your company?
Old Thinking: Proprietary data is the source of our wealth.
New Thinking: Our data plus your data in your application means that there will
be an explosion of innovation and we may gain a LOT more customers for our
data. Furthermore, if we allow people to build on our data, pretty soon we have
a very hard to recreate data source with top-notch data quality.
Example(s): Amazon bought their ISBN data from a third party vendor. Then
they let their customers build on that database. Their database is now better
than the original vendors database. Similarly, Google bought Keyhole (the
people behind Google Earth) and gave away the maps. Innovation around
global mapping has exploded.
Lesson(s): Closed data is bad. Open data with APIs and user modifications is
Tags: Data, Control, Community Data, APIs
Licensing is shifting from closed to open: from “all rights reserved”
to “some rights reserved”
Question(s): How closed are you? What is your worldview – do we live in a
universe of scarcity? Or abundance? Do you think that enclosure and property
rights are the way to wealth?
Old Thinking: Develop your intellectual property. Enclose it with as many
layers of intellectual property protection as you can. Defend it to the last. Or
else do not protect it, but do keep it as a “trade secret” and hope that people
don’t figure it out on their own. This world view is based on enclosure of
property rights as a source of wealth over time.
New Thinking: Create intellectual property and then share it with the world.
Give some or all of it to the open source community of which you are a part.
Share it with others, including your competitors. This worldview is based on the
principle that the real money is made not from licensing, but through fees
elsewhere in the product cycle. Rapid, widespread sharing of IP lowers the cost
of innovation and product development for all players, leaving more money for
differentiation in marketing, distribution and service.
Example(s): The open source movement; Creative commons licensing; the
Open Bio movement (which serves to share genomic and proteomic data freely
with the world rather than enclosing it in patents.)
Lesson(s): Sharing is good; the faster we can share our information and
establish new platforms, the faster we can expand the pie for everybody. Build
cool stuff and share it with the world. Most of the time, they’ll share stuff back.
And by the way, if you do this, you can move a lot faster than your competitors
who are working on a closed model. It is not a panacea and there are
landmines to watch out for including around maintaining profitability and dealing
with new licensing issues, but it can accelerate product development and
garner positive community relations.
Tags: Open Source; Creative Commons;
Long Tail: You may make more money in the Tail than in the Head.
Question(s): Does your business map to Long Tail economics? Do you have a
few markets of millions? What if you could ADD a million markets of a few and
make good profit doing it? Are the assumptions that you hold so dear actually
wrong now that self-service and recommendation engines exist?
Old Thinking: We will serve “several markets of millions” because that’s the
only way we get economies of scale – by treating all of the customers in that
customer segment the same way. Smaller markets just aren’t worth it because
“In the tyranny of physical space, an audience too thinly spread is the same as
no audience at all...Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough
room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs,
DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available
movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough
radio waves to play all the music created, and not enough hours in the day to
squeeze everything out through either of those sets of slots.”4
New Thinking: We can now also serve “millions of markets of several.”
Because our customers can find us, buy our product, learn how to use our
product, and upgrade our product (without our intervention), it is now profitable
to go down “into the tail” to find customers.
Example(s): As of October 2004, Amazon.com made 57% of its revenue off of
product in the Tail (books that are unavailable in physical bookstores.) eBay is
mostly tail – niche and one-off products. Salesforce.com has an average of
19.5 users per deployment. 5
Lesson(s): Make your system self-serve by keeping the thresholds low for
customers, partners, vendors, to join in. Use web-marketing (search is one of
the cheapest marketing costs out there), self-serve purchasing, self-serve
training, and ongoing self-administration. Build recommendation systems that
drive users from the head into the tail (“If you like this top 10 book, you’ll also
like this obscure but relevant book.”)
Tags: Self-Service, Long Tail, Cost of Marketing, Cost of Sales, Cost of Goods Sold, Revenue growth,
“Love In” is the new “Lock In”
Question(s): Is a key part of your business strategy focused on “locking in”
your customer? Put yourself on the other side of that table. How do YOU feel
about being locked in to anything?
Old Thinking: Lock-in is a respected and necessary means of retaining your
customers. This comes in particularly handy if your product is bad or doesn’t
work well or your service is awful. After all, the customer can’t leave!
New Thinking: “Love In” is the only way to truly keep your customers. Focus
your efforts not on coercing your customers to stay against their will but on
giving them such incredible value, easy to use products, and high levels of
satisfaction that they become your biggest, most vocal, and most passionate
Example(s): Any Software as a service provider is automatically more familiar
with “Love In” because their clients can leave at any time and just stop paying
the monthly fees. This behaviour is most often seen in the smaller Web 2.0
applications that have no protection from customer churn OTHER than passion
and loyalty of their audience base (otherwise known as their fan club.)
Tags: Long Tail, recommendations, collaboration, algorithm, velocity
Mash-ups: Innovation is shifting to the edge and exploding
exponentially, making hackers, remixers, and power users the new
Question(s): Do you fear hackers and remixers? Or do you support them?
Old Thinking: Innovation had to happen by the developers adding new
New Thinking: Innovation is happening at the edge where hundreds of
thousands of power users are remixing data in unique ways from various
sources into their own custom applications.
Example(s): Housingmaps.com, Mappr (Flickr + Google Maps), DoubleTrust
(search Google and Yahoo at the same time)6
Lesson(s): Build your applications to be hacked and remixed. Build and give
away access to your APIs. Adopt the “Law of Unintended Consequences” as
your guiding light – know that if you do your job correctly and give access to
your tools away to the world, that people will do all sorts of amazing, inventive,
and wonderfully creative things with your software that you would never dream
Tags: Center to Edge, Innovation, Hackers, Mash-ups, Remixers, Power Users
Micro-formats: structuring information by shipping the structure
along with the data in little chunks
Question(s): Can the data in your applications and systems be “shipped” in
small chunks to somebody else’s system? Why not?
Old Thinking: Keep your data in a database. If you want to transfer that
database, send the entire thing to somebody else.
New Thinking: Send a contact record from your contact database to your
colleague and it will contain not only the data but also the data structure so that
when their system receives it, it knows what the data is and how to integrate it
into THEIR database.
Example(s): Calendar events or contact records that you can sent to another
individual. Blog posts that have a title, a body, a poster name, and a date/time
Lesson(s): solve a specific problem; make the specification as simple as
possible; plan for humans first, machines second; reuse from widely adopted
standards; make the spec modular and embeddable; decentralize the
development, content and services to encourage the “spirit of the web”.7
Tags: Format Size: Big to Small, Data: Fixed to Portable; Technical
Pricing: “Let’s give them Freemium pricing with per-load usage and
metered APIS.” (Read on for the translation.)
Question(s): How would you package and price a web application?
Old Thinking: Most people would assume that a software as a service would
have to be paid by monthly fee. But it turns out that there a lot of different
New Thinking: Oracle charges the same as if you bought the software for your
own company and THEN they charge hosting fees on top. Salesforce.com
charges an annual or bi-annual fee PLUS monthly subscription fees (depending
upon your deployment size). Some smaller web 2.0 application companies
charge per user. Others use “Freemium” pricing – it’s free for a certain number
of users or certain amount of load on the system, but if the users go past those
thresholds, then tiered pricing kicks in on a monthly basis. Another inventive
approach to pricing is to charge by LOAD and not by users. The idea is that it is
better to have a company put all of their people on your application and not
have a barrier to adoption be the per-user pricing. BUT the catch is that there is
some sort of metering of the application load.
Here is yet another innovative approach. If your application has APIs
(connections that allow other applications on the web to talk to it), you can allow
connections for free up to a point...but if that remote application begins using
too much time on your API, it can cross a threshold beyond which you start
billing them. This is referred to as a “metered API”.
Example(s): A great example is Basecamp from 37 Signals. You can invite as
many people as you need to one project and it costs nothing. But as soon as
you open a second project, you need to start paying.
Lesson(s): Innovation can be found anywhere. It can happen in your sales,
marketing, product development, delivery methods...and also in packaging and
Tags: Mashup, API, Pricing, Freemium, Per-Load Pricing, Per-User Pricing
Power, legitimacy, and quality are moving from the Center to the
Question(s): Do you think that your organization is the last bastion of truth,
power, legitimacy, or quality in your field, industry, or sector? You might be
Old Thinking: For many years, there has been a general distrust of media, but
people still believed certain media outlets had more credibility than others.
Some were held up almost as paragons of virtue or bastions of truth, freedom
and democracy. It was assumed that the Wall Street Journal or the Washington
Post, for example, were highly legitimate and had the money and time to do
their homework. It has also been assumed that because they could do their
homework, that they had a threshold for truth that was higher than any other
New Thinking: There is a growing belief in the social media movement that
“We the Media” (citizen journalists) are faster, better, more accurate, and more
legitimate than big media. This is not a widely held belief but certainly one that
is held more and more often by social media proponents, including such media
lumanaries as Dan Gillmor. Organizations are springing up that are testing the
boundaries of these ideas. And individual bloggers are now more widely
respected than some media stations that have been around for a very long
Example(s): In 2005, Dan Rather, anchor of CBS’ venerable 60 Minutes series,
was challenged on his presentation of a news story about President George W.
Bush’s military service. This event is now referred to as “Rathergate” or
“Memogate”8. Bloggers exposed that CBS had not done their homework and
had defrauded its viewers. Then those bloggers provided the evidence to
support their assertions and claimed that CBS had provided forged documents
on television. When speaking about this series of events, Peggy Noonan wrote
in the Wall Street Journal, “It was to me a great historical development in the
history of politics in America. It was Agincourt.” One of the members of a site
called FreeRepublic.com put it a bit more bluntly: “NOTE to old media
scum...We are just getting warmed up!”9
Lesson(s): Accept that there will be others outside of your organization who
can (and should) shoulder the burden of legitimacy and who can probably
speak about your company far more knowledgeably than you or your people
can. Find them, work with them, support them. If you don’t, they’ll do it anyway
and they probably are more respected than you and your PR people.
Tags: Social Media, Media, Corporate Responsibility, Center to the Edge, Power
Presence awareness: know where your friends are and if they’re
available to communicate with you.
Questions: Are your users aware of each other? Can they interact over time
and in real-time? Are they aware of each other? If so, how can you connect
them more? If they are not aware of each other, what can you do to connect
Old Thinking: Work on your own. Visit the Website on your own (even though
there are many other users quot;therequot;. Use your web application on your own
(even though 1,000 of your colleagues are logged in at the same time.) Work in
a vaccuum...or if you have the tools to do so, use a proprietary (and expensive)
knowledge management system to build upon the knowledge of your peers...as
long as it’s within the (fire)walls of your organization.
New Thinking: When you visit a site, you know that other people are there with
you. When you run your web application, you can tell who else is logged in and
you can collaborate with them in real or delayed time.
Lesson: Connect your users to each other. Let them sense when their friends,
peers, and colleagues are “there”.
Tags: Individual to Group; Social; Technical
Product Development: What if you could build products that your
customers wanted AND you could revise them 1,000 times faster?
Question(s): How long does it take for YOUR organization to release new
versions of its products? What would it take to cut it from 6-12 months down to
weekly revisions? Or daily? Or hourly?
Old Thinking: You think up a product. You build it. You ship it a year later. It
sucks. Your customers tell you it sucks. Six months later you ship a product that
New Thinking: Your product development team INCLUDES your customers
from start to finish. And your product development loops have gone from 12
months to 15 minutes.
Example(s): Flickr was an online game company that morphed into a photo
sharing company by treating customers as members of the product
development team, listening to them, then pushing out changes in 15 minute
cycles (at their most frequent point).
Lesson(s): Trust your customers. Listen. Test. Learn. Adapt. Put features in
and then watch. Keep what works. Get rid of what doesn’t. Keep it simple. Keep
Tags: Product development, Flickr Time, Customers as Partners
Recommendation systems can make your users more satisfied
and can make your business a lot more money.
Question(s): Do your users come to your site or use your applications and
think to themselves, “Wow, how did they know I needed THAT piece of
information or wanted to do THAT?” It’s just like magic!”
Old Thinking: Using simple pattern-matching is good enough (“other users
who bought X also bought Y, would you like Y too?”)
New Thinking: Recommendation engines are complex multi-variable analytics.
And they can make you a LOT more money from your users if they are
designed well and used in the correct way.
Example(s): Amazon.com has very advanced recommendation engines that
use multiple variables from the user and from the information coming from other
users to dynamically adjust its recommendations over time.
Lesson(s): If you have a system where this is applicable, hire yourself some
statistical analysis geniuses. Ask them to solve this problem: “optimize our
recommendations so that we generate the most total profit from each
Tags: Long Tail, recommendations, collaboration, algorithm, velocity
RSS is the lifeblood of Web 2.0. It connects machines to machines,
people to machines, and people to people. Think of it as the means by
which all information will be passed from anything to anything.
Question(s): What is your RSS strategy? Uhh, yeah, we thought so.
Old Thinking: HTTP requests from browsers to web servers were the “new
new thing” in web 1.0.
New Thinking: RSS is now being used for data synchronization across the
globe. It is the root of what makes mash-ups work. It is becoming the dominant
messaging protocol between entities. It connects people to machines, and
applications to each other.
Example(s): RSS underpins the entire blog infrastructure and is the foundation
of mash-up culture. Microsoft has publicly stated that RSS will be built into
everything Microsoft does from now on.
Lesson(s): Embed RSS into everything you do. It is the universal lowest
common denominator messaging protocol for the web.
Tags: RSS, messaging, Services Oriented Architecture, Web Oriented Architecture
Self-Service is one of the major reasons it is possible to make money
in the “Long Tail.”
Question(s): How self-serve is your organization?
Old Thinking: We can’t sell to the Long Tail because our cost of doing
business there is too high.
New Thinking: Our users find us online, buy our product or service without
talking to sales people, learn how to use our product by watching our tutorials,
chatting on our forums, and collaborating with other users.
Example(s): By fall of 2005, Doubleclick had 2,000 advertisers through their
very manual process of on-boarding new customers. Google had around
Lesson(s): Examine your entire product lifecycle. Rebuid your systems so that
people can find, acquire, use, and retire your product, without ever talking to
Tags: Self-Service, Long Tail, Cost of Marketing, Cost of Sales, Cost of Goods Sold
Self-moderation and self-ranking are important keys to self-
service (and low cost delivery of your offerings.)
Question(s): Are you still moderating your community manually? If so, how can
you possibly scale up? You CAN’T.
Old Thinking: We will allow users to use our system but since they are an
unruly mob, we must moderate them, control them, and decide who can stay
and who must be sanctioned.
New Thinking: It turns out that people are quite capable of moderating
themselves and also ranking the people and information around them for
Example(s): In most social networking sites, there are mechanisms for people
to flag material and other users for things such as “incorrect category”, “XXX
material”, or “abuse of terms”, or “
Lesson(s): Build self-moderation and self-ranking into your communities
alongside self-service for payments. It allows you to manage large numbers of
users without the extra bandwidth of having to monitor everything. This equals
lower costs of administration and cost of goods for hosted applications. And that
equals higher profitability.
Tags: Self-moderation, Trust, Self-Ranking, Online Community, Social Network, Self-service
Software as a Service: Our data and applications moving from the
desktop to the web. And very small and mid-sized businesses are
leading the way.
Question(s): Where do your apps REALLY need to live? What about your
Old Thinking: Your desktop application contacted your desktop database or
perhaps a database located on a server inside your firewall.
New Thinking: Your applications are now moving to the Web, many of them
outside of your corporate firewall. And your data is moving along with the
Example(s): Netsuite, Salesforce.com, Rightnow Technologies,
SuccessFactors, and many, many, many more applications (and databases.)
Lesson(s): People are trusting their key business applications and data to
third-party software as a service providers. The VSB (very small business)
market and the mid-market are leading this charge. Build what they want first.
Tags: Edge to Center, Data, Applications
Tagging is a way for humans to map their confusing, conflicting, and
messy view of the world onto our data. It is better than search. And it
gives us flexibility we didn’t have before when categorizing things.
Question(s): Can your users tag content? Why not? Are you still forcing people
to falsely “store” files or data in one folder or category or another? Why?
Tags: Tagging, metadata, file structures, folders
Old Thinking: In a closed environment, we can come up with a strict dictionary
of terms that people should use to categorize things.
New Thinking: Let people come up with their own words for things. And use
that messy model to find things.
Example(s): Kevin Kelly wrote: “When we post and then tag pictures on the
community photo album Flickr, we are teaching the Machine to give names to
images.”11 Try Googling “Sports nutrition”. You get 66, 100, 000 results. But if
you go to http://del.icio.us/ and search for “sports + nutrition” you get 243 highly
focues sites that have been tagged by people. More results are not better!
Lesson(s): Build tagging systems into your tools. Ideally use the emerging
tagging standards and make them interoperable where possible. Watch how
your users tag things to see what you can learn from them.
User-generated content: Your users can generate BETTER
content FASTER than you can.
Question(s): How could you serve your customers or stakeholders better by
letting them help you?
Old Thinking: As the creator of a product or service, it was incumbent upon
you to create everything that your users might need.
New Thinking: Your users know your product better than you do. And there are
millions of them (hopefully). And for their own variety of reasons, they will often
generate content to share with their colleagues as a way of building or
establishing reputation in their community.
Example(s): eBay is 100% user generated content. So is Craigslist. So is Digg.
So is NowPublic. It has been estimated that 40% of the content on the web is
non-commercial in nature. [can’t find this reference.]
Lesson(s): Give your stakeholders the tools to generate content and get the
hell out of their way.
Tags: User Generated Content, Bring Your Own Content
Watch and learn: By watching (and analyzing) your users’ actions,
they can lead you to the promised land of better product offerings.
Test. Learn. Adapt. Quickly.
Question(s): Do you have any idea how people really use your software? No, I
didn’t think so. What if you could watch every user in the world at once?
Old Thinking: Build an app, (maybe) do some usability testing, set it free.
Design next app (with a clean sheet). Repeat.
New Thinking: By hosting your applications, it is possible to watch every single
thing that a user does and then to do analysis of that to pick up patterns that
even the users aren’t aware of.
Example(s): Flickr did this very well. They would watch their users and then
keep the popular features and remove the unpopular features. Amazon.com
does this EXTREMELY well.
Lesson(s): Release your software as a hosted application. Build it to allow you
to log their activities and aggregate them. Do the hard work of analysis to figure
out what is working and what is not. Adapt.
Tags: Product Development, Rapid adaptation
Web as Platform: The desktop operating system is (sort of) dead
and the Web is the only platform that really matters
Question(s): Are you still building desktop applications? Why? Can you make
them more interoperable with your web-services? Do you HAVE web services?
Old Thinking: If you wanted to build an application, you would look for your
target audience, and then prioritize which operating systems to build in what
sequence. Each operating system had unique heterogeneous complexity
issues that increased your coding and testing requirements exponentially.
New Thinking: The web is the platform for the application, not the operating
Example(s): iTunes, Xbox, Salesforce.com, last.fm
Lesson(s): Stop building for the desktop. Build for the web only. Or build
across all devices (which might still require a device specific client application.)
If you can build for the web only, you radically simplify your code base, and you
simplify the number of variables (since you’re building for a single data center
and not heterogeneous environments.) But don’t do this blindly. Examine each
application on a case by case basis to see if it makes sense for you and for
Tags: Web as Platform, Software Above the Level of Device
Wikis are tools that allow people to create websites and documents
together easily without having to know anything other than how to
use a word-processor.
Question(s): Do you ever have to create documents with your colleagues and
have to live through versionitis hell or the dreaded “track changes” in Microsoft
Office? Do you need a workplace that is accessible by people inside and
outside of your company?
Old Thinking: What’s a wiki?
New Thinking: Wikis are the perfect tool for lightweight project management
and collaborative document editing.
Example(s): IBM, Microsoft, Sun and many companies have public blogs.
Lesson(s): Create your policy. Build your blog system. Find your internal
bloggers. Get out there and join the conversation. And hurry. You’re late.
Tags: blog, conversation
1 Many of the core concepts came from Tim O’Reilly’s initial document titled “What is Web 2.0” and I
have taken the liberty of extending and adding to those ideas here. That’s “cumulative learning”
as you will see later in the document!
2 Per Michael Geist’s presentation at Mesh 2006 in Toronto. See also
3 U-Haul’s top search results are all horror stories from people who have used their service. If you
search for “Kryptonite Lock” you will get all sorts of stories about the public relations fiasco that
occurred when the Kryptonite lock manufacturing company continued shipping “unbreakable”
locks that, as it turned out, could be broken in 5 seconds using a Bic Pen. The company didn’t
respond to the firestorm quickly enough and bloggers were celebrated for having broken the story
wide open. The company has since agreed to replace all of their previous locks for no charge.
8 See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathergate and
12 This appears a bit muddy when one looks at cases such as iTunes, Xbox, or Last.FM where the
“application” is a combination of a local desktop client AND a web-based service, until you realize
that all of it functions together as a whole across the web.