People In The Machine: Web 2.0 Goes Dominant?

TechMeme turned me onto an interesting bit by Bill Tancer this evening: social networking tour de force MySpace might be the #1 visited domain by users in the United States. Never mind TechCrunch's coverage of up-and-comer BeBo's, decision to turn down a half a billion dollar offer recently. The realization of Web 2.0 on a large scale, namely a Web created primarily by content and community supplied by its users (ala Wikipedia, Digg, YouTube, and many others), appears to have become widespread to the extent that Web 2.0-style sites are starting to climb to the very top of the popularity charts.

The large-scale "scene" supplied by so many unique, enthusiastic users, bringing their own content in the form of highly personalized blogs, multimedia contributions, and more is apparently irresistable draw. It's also clearly more powerful than the solo experiences that far too many Web sites still offer to their users if the growth rates are any indication. Network effects, too often blunted by other factors, does seem to be more potent in a Web 2.0 setting.

For that matter other aspects of Web 2.0, specifically the growing trend of users programming, integrating, and otherwise knitting the Web into new apps popularly known as mashups, is given a boost every day by fascinating new ingredients. Just today I've come across MIT's Simile effort, which offers fascinating Timeline project enables the insertion of Google Maps-style interactive data-driven Ajax timelines into any Web page (see great examples with the Dinosaur and Religion timelines.) Or take the Mapstraction project, which "normalizes" all the major mapping APIs from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo so that mashups can be created against a consistent interface and their implementations swapped out for any of the three, preventing lock-in.

At the same time, enterprises are increasingly looking at triggering the same type of potent network effects within and across their walls. So too are they often trying to take the enabling techniques of Web 2.0 companies (radically improved Web application stacks, nearly realtime user feedback loops, triggering user contributions and more.) The trends sometime seem isolated but I believe they point to a single source: The Web as the medium for a new democratic social media, one that is far more self-aware, community obsessed, and lacking in virtually any central control. The new Web is the old Web for sure, but we're changing with it and it with us.

More soon, I've been busy with vacation and business travel but have lots of new Web 2.0 analysis coming. In the meantime, where do you think the Web is going?

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Aiden Reynolds
Aiden Reynolds
Aiden Reynolds is a content editor at WEB 2.0 JOURNAL. He was born and raised in New York, and has been interested in computer and technology since he was a child. He is also a hobbyist of artificial intelligence. Reynolds is known for his hard work ethic. He often puts in long hours at the office, and is always looking for new ways to improve his writing and reviewing skills. Despite his busy schedule, he still makes time for his interests, such as playing video games. In his free time, Reynolds enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. He is also an active member of the community, and frequently volunteers his time to help out with local events.