Tuesday, 02 September 2008 09:43

Opinion: Web 2.0 - an inedible Pie!

The pie-in-the-sky hype surrounding "Web 2.0" seems to have enticed some organizations to the honey pot with less than impressive results. Buzzwords abound: is Web 2.0 the same as Web Services or SOA, and does Web 2.0 have to be implemented using AJAX techniques? Where are we now with all this, and where's it all leading?

A few months ago, Telstra refreshed the design of its now we are talking site to use newer Microsoft features, and (for me at least) it behaved extremely erratically at first. Pages sometimes loaded quickly, at other times not at all or only partially. The site's working fine now, and looks quite good.

I visit lots and lots of different sites every day, but will now mention just two of them: the SD Times site seems to have undergone a revamp recently, and at the moment I'm also finding it to be a little erratic (I've measured some page load times up to 30 seconds or more). I've asked them what might be causing these problems, but yet have received no response.

The CNET site also has been revamped recently, and while it looks good and pages load quickly, I've found that there's something in the new site design that prevents a handy mouse function I use a lot (right click some text in order to do a Google or Wikipedia lookup on it) now always gives a JavaScript error whereas it didn't in their old site design.

I realize that such examples of decreased usability or page load behavior are not necessarily caused by moving across to some Web 2.0 technology such as AJAX, I have a suspicion this might have a lot to do with it.

Confusion reigns. There's still a fair bit of misunderstanding about the various terms being bandied about, what the various technologies are and how they can or should be implemented in a practical situation.

I don't intend to dwell on the details here. You can do a bit of background reading if you like, using some useful resource links that I've assembled about Web Services and SOA here (backup here) or, among many other places, in Wikipedia.

For two rather whimsical opinion pieces of mine written last year, take a gander at Web 2.0 -- on a wing and a prayer! and Web 3.0 is Underway -- but "Web Pi" is unreachable where I introduce my "Pi in the sky" view about these hyped-up trends.


As you know full well, the exact value of Pi is indeterminate, which in my 39th year in the IT industry I'm confident applies to Web 2.0 also!


In my quest to strengthen my imperfect grasp on concepts like "Web 2.0" I'm always on the alert for material developed by others that shed light on any of them.

There's a lot written about such matters, but unfortunately not all of it is worth the volume of cyberspace taken up.

However I've just come across a little gem of presentation on Web 2.0 by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University

It's a short Flash video giving his interpretation of Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes, or The Machine is Us/ing Us.

This YouTube link is to his final version, as of late February 2007 (turn on your speakers):

There are higher quality versions available for download: Windows Media file (55 MB) and Quicktime file (96 MB). He specifies "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. So you are welcome to download it, share it, even change it, just as long as you give me some credit and you don't sell it or use it to sell anything."

But there's more. PLEASE READ ON...


While I'm at it, if you're still struggling to understand what all this new stuff is all about, you might like to visit the Commoncraft site.


Here you can watch some of their short videos to explain rather cutely what's meant by such terms as Social Media, Social Networking, Podcasting, Twitter,  Wikis, and Blogs.




A few days ago, I wrote about Cloud Computing -- When will it be Good Enough? (mentioning Google Apps).

In the same vein here's a YouTube link to one of their videos titled The benefits of Web Office - A New Way to Work:






I hope the above references and videos helped you to beat a path through the tangled jungle of concepts, acronyms and buzzwords, and that you soon reach a well earned "clearing of enlightenment."

Let me know if it helped. If it didn't, sorry -- and I'm prepared to eat "humble Pi" if that's to be my punishment.

Don't forget to have some fun and a challenge or two that I've devised for you!. Visit the iTWire TechWords Interactive Crosswords and word search puzzles section.
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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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