I always enjoy Dilbert, but this one is especially funny: Dilbert on Web 2.0.
Catchy name for a party, isn’t it 🙂
When I helped start the Yahoo Developer Network, part of my job was to go around to all the product teams inside Yahoo and convince them that it would be good for their business to open up free web APIs. The response among technical folks was pretty universally enthusiastic. It’s just one of those ideas that make great sense to an engineer. Among business folks, the response was more mixed. They would bring up a pretty predictable series of concerns. Will it cannibalize my business? How will we prevent abuse? Do we have to go first? And the unspoken concern – how will this affect my job?
Another issue that came up – one that caught me by surprise – is that some people thought open APIs and open source were somehow the same thing. As in “if we open an API does that mean we will open source our software?”. Umm, no. Both open source and open APIs have to do with technology and both have the word “open” in them, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Yet it kept coming up. For example, when Yahoo announced an open API for Yahoo Mail someone wrote a big article on how Yahoo was open sourcing Yahoo Mail (the story has since vanished, I could only find this Digg link to it).
To help clarify open source vs. open APIs, here’s a quick overview of each:
Many people don’t like the term user generated content. It’s because it focuses on content, not people. And people are what matters most on the new web. I mentioned this to Tony Conrad a while back, and yesterday I noticed that he’s using the term People Media instead of user generated content. I asked him why and he said it just seemed to make sense to him. I agree. I like it. Mainstream Media. People Media.
In case you haven't already, you should check out Sphere. It's a great new blog search engine which I helped get started last year and which, more importantly, will help you discover great blogs.
Everyone but Wall Street seems to be excited about the “new web”:
- Consumers: excited: 200,000 new MySpace users every day
- VCs: excited:pre-revenue web 2.0 startups are raising $5-10MM
- Press: excited: Business Week, Business 2.0, DesignTechnica, lots more
- Wall Street: not excited: Google drops 7% (again) overnight
If you thought that nobody really talks in that certain way that various “bullshit generators” make fun of, consider this: a few weeks ago I got a voice mail from a recruiter and he said verbatim “Would you be interested in joining an exciting startup? They are called ****** and they provide a hosted on-demand development integration platform to build composite applications delivered over a thin client or you could also say they do last mile delivery of SOA apps“. I could not believe my ears and had to write it down word for word.
In the build-up to next week’s Web 2.0 conference, technology observers are debating what web 2.0 is (I’m speaking at the conference on a couple of topics). I think the term web 2.0 has reached a tipping point in Silicon Valley in the last couple of months. People have been prognosticating a shift in the evolution of the web for a few years now. The shift is towards the web as a computing platform on which to build applications (and away from a publishing platform for web pages). This new computing platform will consist of open and easily accessible web services such as search results, news data feeds or people’s shared photos. Software developers will use these services as building blocks to rapidly create whatever new products they can think up. I think the tipping point for this idea was Housingmaps. Built by a single developer in his spare time over the course of a couple of months, it makes the concept immediately obvious to people. Take two web 2.0 building blocks, in this case an RSS feed for Craigslist real estate listings and a maps API from Google, mix them together and you get a cool new app. Now have a few hundred thousand web developers repeat this process and you get a explosion of new ideas and products.
Housingmaps was quickly noticed by bloggers and written up in the NYT. Since then, I hear web 2.0 everywhere. As is typical when Silicon Valley is in the grip of a new buzzword, lots of ideas and people are piling onto the bandwagon. All of a sudden, every company with a corporate blog and an RSS feed is “web 2.0”. Conferences and roundtables are popping up. VCs are working overtime trying to figure out where the money will be made. I guess this is all part of the process of vetting an idea and finding the core that will enable true long term value. In the end, I believe we’ll find that this is a real and important trend that will be driven by a handful of building block service providers such as Yahoo! and Google and thousands of software developers who will be building new products such as Housingmaps. Incidently, an important part of my job at Yahoo is to create the building blocks, so I’m obviously totally unbiased.
PS: If you couldn’t get tickets to Web 2.0, check out Web 1.0 to be held across the street!
Update: I like this web 2.0 definition by Tim O’Reilly: “Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an “architecture of participation,” and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.”