Web 2.0 Journal Exclusive Feature: Web 2.0 – Something New Under the Sun

Love it, or hate it, the Web 2.0 moniker is simply a rallying cry for the convergent and emergent development of new social architectures that Jeremy Geelan describes as The Perfect Storm of Web 2.0 in his recent column. There is something profound going on here. Dion Hinchcliffe adds another interesting perspective in his latest commentary on this subject. Web 2.0 is about the social dimension and the new architectures of participation that are being created.

I actually agree with Tim Berners-Lee when he points out that the vast majority of developments that are being labeled Web 2.0 are in fact built on Web 1.0 components such as HTML and JavaScript. This is true, but the difference is the inventive ways in which these components have been put together to create new solutions. An interesting parallel here is Apple and the iPod. The iPod was not the first digital music player to be introduced to the public. Neither was companion application, iTunes, the first music library software. The difference was the way Apple packaged hardware and software to breakdown the barriers to allow non-technical people to use the new device and re-discover their music collections.

When barriers to contribution are dismantled everyone benefits. As Dion Hinchcliffe expertly illustrates in the graphic in his recent column, the collective intelligence of the two-way web will massively outweigh the knowledge generated by the, mostly one-way, publication of information from traditional media and corporate sites.

Integration and Operational Excellence

In my mind the shift that has occurred under the guise of Web 2.0 is both profound and irreversible. The first differentiator is integration. Mashups or emergent, situational software are on the leading edge of this wave. Web 2.0 developers are working by an emerging collective design knowledge that embraces the network and yields unexpected, emergent solutions that evolve from the un-pre-scripted integration of loosely coupled web components. Just think about how it is now possible to snap a photo and email it from your cell phone and have it published immediately on a web site automagically. We are also seeing this ease of use and access evolve with online video with solutions like EyeSpot and blip.tv that are empowering citizen journalism. EyeSpot provides the tools to edit and mix video and audio content in your web browser and then publish it to a blog or web site. Blip.tv provides video publishing and has been licensed by CNN to manage and publish user submitted video content.

Integration brings challenges. Google and Amazon are major players that understand the dynamics of the long tail,a term coined by Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine. The Internet makes it easy to offer a vast array of content and products to service a vast array of micromarkets. The challenge comes in servicing the demand. This leads me to the other major under the hood differentiator: Operations Excellence.

Google and Amazon embrace the long tail and have built an operations architecture that supports millions of users. Amazon in particular is a pacesetter in this area. They have created an operations architecture that is available on a pay-by-use basis for messaging, storage and processing. Amazon uses this architecture for it's own internal needs, but any one of us can tap in to that same architecture to build and deliver our own applications.

The challenge with any Web 2.0 application is to cope with the spiraling demand when viral growth reaches the tipping point and usage experiences exponential growth. This is where Web 2.0 developers need to be ready with a rock solid operations capability. Applications need to be designed for scalability and capacity management becomes a critical mission. When your competitor is just a couple of clicks away nothing will sabotage your goals more quickly than slow response times and unreliable access.

Two sides of the same coin

Integration: Building a successful Web 2.0 platform requires an open approach and a willingness to creatively integrate elements over which you may have no control.

Operations Excellence: Building a constantly changing, adaptive platform demands discipline and the ability to react to the unexpected quickly and respond with processes that are both on target and repeatable.

If you are building an innovative world changing solution you need both of these capabilities nailed.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

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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.