All posts tagged ‘Web 2.0’

File Under: Software & Tools

The End of Web 2.0, Beginning of Web Infinity

As our economy sours, more and more nervous technologists are writing off Web 2.0 as dead. We believe web 2.0 (whatever it really means) isn’t on the decline, the economy is. The web is evolving. In fact, there’s no sign it will ever stop.

There are plenty of reasons to cast fingers upwards and claim the sky looks a lot closer than it did yesterday. The economy is in big trouble. An unprecedented $700 billion bailout by the government failed to quell a stock market crash. Those scarred by the dot-com crash of 2001 and 2002 are starting to see the signs of another bubble popping.

Business Week’s Rob Hof, on the other hand, takes a more modest approach. He argues the ideas and momentum of Web 2.0 continues and pundits’ words should be supplemented with a dose of skepticism.

We are inclined to agree with Hof’s take. Granted, we’ll all be able to track the tightening of purse strings as the economy continues its recession. However, carefully tailored from the lessons of 2001 and 2002, Silicon Valley is more prepared than ever for economic downturn. Ever since the bubble burst in 2001, every startup’s economic volatility has been built into Web 2.0′s culture. “You’ll never know when the next bubble will burst” was the underlying worry to keep every new startup honest.

Just because a social network or video site may not make it through a recession doesn’t mean the end to Ajax, APIs, widgets and the continuing design theories of big buttons, graphs, tabbed menus and large text. New APIs and standards will continue to be developed. People will continue to buy sheep-throwing applications and stupid viral messaging widgets for fun. We fail to see how a widget developer will stop making profitable but trifling apps in order to “get serious.”

But, we continue to see an era of advancement through social experiments and feature innovation, zombie apps and all.

Perhaps nothing was as jolting to the opportunistic idealism of the late ’90s as the dot-com bomb. Today, we are seeing some very similar symptoms and can foresee some serious challenges in the recession-burdened future. Here are some of the web’s challenges we can look forward to, regardless of which version we’re on:

The Decline of Social Networks

Social networks are fun and a great way to build a small community in what would normally be a fairly large and disconnected network called the internet. Social networks made the internet smaller for people, but the question of what value is added by social networks is one that we cannot yet answer. Making money has always been a problem for these sites, and social networks are the trendiest things on the internet. One day you’re MySpace, the next you’re Facebook. Unless social networks learn to monetize and compete with the thousands of new sites popping up every day, social networks may be the first to feel the pinch.

The End of Cartoony Logos

The cartoony logo. It’s the mainstay of the Web 2.0 design lexicon. However, some will argue cartoony is too hard to take seriously. It projects an image that doesn’t grow well with a serious company. Even Jeff Veen, a former Google employee, discounted the Google logo as “ugly” and “childish.” There are new and innovative ways to visualize information, and Veen takes an interest in following those trends. However, in many ways, design tastes change as often as music trends. It is difficult to make an argument how web design trends are direct reflections of the economic atmosphere.

The Decline of Web 1.0 Companies Yahoo and Ebay

Ebay was one of the first companies to start laying off people in 2008. The site’s decreasing traffic and sales show a decline of one of the stalwarts of Web 1.0. And despite some promising new technological strategies coming out of Yahoo, like its open application platform and the geo-aware Fire Eagle service, the economic situation in Sunnyvale seems to be going more red than purple.

The Decline of the Ad-Supported Free Technology Model

We don’t buy the prophecy that the ad-supported application model will soon end. We’re all very lucky much of Web 2.0 was funded by the enlarged wallet of ads, itself a construct of technology we can thank Web 2.0 applications like Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing for.

Sorry, just because your website doesn’t make enough money off of an ad-revenue model doesn’t mean the theory itself is flawed. Some web applications, mostly sites with content, are just better equipped to use this model than others. The ad-based model probably wouldn’t work as a sole source of revenue for your local YMCA. Why would it work for your social network?

What Web Infinity Looks Like

Perhaps the general malaise around Web 2.0 isn’t due to the withering of the concepts behind it, but rather the term itself. In fact, maybe proclaiming its death reflects a way to wipe the slate clean of the overwhelming bad news over the past few months.

The web has never ceased to be an exciting innovative place for business and technology. Even if certain elements of web 2.0 get old, this industry has a resilience and will buckle down and weather the storm to make the case for innovation far into the future. Sure, the industry will tighten its belt and we’ll see people claiming a web 3.0, 4.0, etc… Luckily for all of us, web technology is still in its infancy, and perhaps it will always be this way.

What do you think. Is Web 2.0 over? State your opinion in comments

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File Under: Software & Tools

Humyo: 30 Gig Online Hard Drive

Humyo.com is offering 30 gigs of online storage for free with every account sign up . The catch is 25 gigs is restricted to media files such as music and video, five is for whatever you want, and anything over that will cost you.

The website interface uses a Java Applet to drag and drop files to and from your online account. You can create folders, sort by type and edit files directly within the browser. Editing and sharing files via the web interface makes the online storage somewhat unique by simulating a shared drive and enabling collaboration.

Downloading via the web page is a little clunky — you can only download one file at a time. Humyo explains that instead of developing a way to permit mass downloads, development will focus on making it easy to access all your files online. Although it is unsaid, it will also probably also prevent software piracy.

Perhaps the most useful feature of Humyo’s offering is its Windows desktop client. The client emulates a network drive, complete with any files or folders you created or uploaded online. You can download and upload just as if you were moving files around on your computer. You can even play the media directly through iTunes or Windows Media Player.

Humyo’s desktop client is impressive because it blurs the line between the “cloud” and desktop software. You would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the Humyo drive or any local area network drive that appears under “My Computer.”

Of course, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Humyo makes their money by getting you to pay for the Premium account which will run you $59.99 for the first year, $79.99 after that. As with any online storage, you will probably want to hold on to the original files in case Humyo goes down. The client software comes with a 14 day trial, after that you’ll have to pay for the Premium account.

Humyo’s service is an example of what is next in store for the web. Apple’s MobileMe, announced in June, promises online synchronization between computers through online, mobile and desktop interfaces. MobileMe will be available to Mac users this summer for a hefty $99/year. Dropbox promises similar functionality for the Mac but is currently limited to beta testers by invite only.

Other services focus on the transfer of files rather than accessibility. Drop.io is a favorite and doesn’t require an account. Drop.io works like TinyURL for files. You can upload a file under 100 mb and share it with friends with a simple URL.

[via Makeuseof.com]

File Under: Events

It’s 10 pm; Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

Netvibesoutage

I don’t mean to pick on Netvibes. I use it as my daily feed aggregator. I enjoy its features, I’ve created my own custom modules, and it makes my life significantly more convenient.

But I’ve seen that message above a few times lately. It’s exactly because I enjoy Netvibes that I risk becoming dependent on it, and hence being a victim of outages and whatnot. With the massive convenience and good track record of your own favorite online service, it’s very easy to forget that, if something goes awry (could be on your end), all that data will be inaccessible.

Yes, I’m an alarmist about remote data. But I remember vividly the day in 1997 when I logged onto my Hotmail account to find that my inbox was empty, all my archived mail vanished, and there was nothing anybody could do to help me.

So consolidating RSS URLs into an online reader is about as risky as I’m willing to go. If I entrusted my only copies of my e-mail, or calendar, or photos to some faraway server somewhere, I’d lose sleep. Even Netvibes has a local OPML backup feature, and I use it.

Gmail

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File Under: Events, Other, Web Basics

Web 2.0 Summit Startups Battle For Best In Show

E_2_2It’s about as close as the Web 2.0 Summit gets to a sporting match: Launch Pad. Six finalists, six minutes each, four VC judges, and a couple of awards whose prize is the pure satisfaction of being named best in show. Bring on the poodles!

First up: TripIt

When you make travel plans, forward your confirmations to plans@tripit.com, and you’re off to the races with a master travel itinerary that you can fetch on your phone with a text message. The Wired News contingent in attendance agreed we’re going to use it, but we concede the point of one of the VC judges: "I don’t get it. It’s a feature. It’s Webvan. Everybody wants it, but I don’t know how you make money on it." TripIt didn’t win any awards from the audience, which voted by clapping, but Wired News would like to give TripIt CEO Gregg Brockway our nod for best sweater (above).

Next up: Spiceworks

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File Under: Events, Other

Hitwise’s Bill Tancer: Websites To Watch

Billtancer2

I had been forewarned: Bill Tancer is a stats maven. What’s more, the General Manager of Global Research at Hitwise told the crowd here at the Summit that web 2.0 get him excited for the sheer amount of data now available.

He showed a slide of Roger’s Adoption Curve, a bell curve developed in 1962 showing the spectrum from early adopters to laggards. Today, says Tancer, early adopters may not be 2.5% of the population; often they are just .5%. But the time it takes for a technology or website to go from early adoption to full on phenomenon can be a matter of weeks, or even days. YouTube, for example, took only six weeks to surpass the combined traffic of Google and Yahoo’s video sites.

So what’s next? Tancer and his team have combined data on the buzz a subject creates on social networks with the rate the public enters the term into a search engine, and says it can make predictions on what soon will be hot with the kids. Tancer’s picks today: KeepVid, Bix (owned by Yahoo), WikiMedia Commons, and  Veoh.

Tancer may talk fast, but he only had 10 minutes. For more, including what Tancer says is the last word on "Is Facebook’s traffic slowing down, or is it just seasonality?" check out the Hitwise blog.