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   RE: Web 2.0 Case Study - Apple Dashboard Widgets - Beyond The Browser

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Hello Gerard,

Gerald said:
     Web 2.0 doesn't claim to be a new operating system. Web 2.0 claims 
to be the new and most popular platform levaraging open web technologies 
such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, RSS, XMLHttpRequest and so on. A great 
case-study and run-away success story are web widgets introduced by 
Apple and branded as Dashboard Widgets.

Didier replies:
This is one point of view and there seems to be more than one perspective of
what is web 2.0. Like Tim Bray I have a hard time to see what is behind this
buzzword especially if we try to answer: "what is the difference between
version 2.0 and 3.0?". or "is there any 3.0 version?" :-) :-)

The only thing we can observe beyond the buzzwords is that some pioneers
tried to leverage the power of what is provided by browsers:
a) a set of visual objects (I know, the purist won't be happy with this
statement - nonetheless, most of the HTML elements have a one to one
correspondence with a visual object - this is why I always talked about a
"rendering language" for HTML)
b) a language to bring some behavior to these visual objects and some
processing power in addition.

If we think properly, this is what other languages like powerbuilder or
VisualBasic provided. However, the two previously mentioned languages where
expansible. In addition to the basic components provided with the basic
product, a whole industry provided "off the shelf components". This is still
missing in the browser as a platform. This said we have some offers from the
market based on flash or java but very few offers based on HTML, Javascript
and xmlHTTPRequest. 

There is also another perspective on what is web 2.0: social networks. I
would simply say that it's a displacement of a broadcast publication
paradigm to a more distributed one. Also, personal data is added to
commercial data. If I post my pictures on the web, we now have a new
category of data: personal data. In the past we got:
a) Private corporate data, like internal accounting data, production data,
marketing data, etc....
b) Broadcast data: Usually packaged in text like for instance news,
articles, essays, e-books, etc... It's a one to many type of diffusion.
Now the web brought a new type of data: personal data:
a) personal opinions: weblogs
b) personal pictures, resumes, family or friend discussions.etc.
c) personal files: documents, spreadsheets, etc.

We also have group data having different classification: restricted
diffusion, for your eyes only, for the entire universe, for my family only,
for my friends only, for my peers only, etc. etc.

The web brought the possibility of more interaction between people and more
interaction between all kinds of data: I can aggregate your data to mine or
I can refer to your data through a link.

These last things also represent a perspective of what some call web 2.0.

As I said, beyond the buzzwords we can notice two trends:
a) more sophisticated applications running in the browser sandbox
b) new data and combinations of this data is appearing on the web.

Flikr is not new, what is new is to tag the images and facilitate the
searching. Flikr is simply a more useful tool.

Google map is not new but more fun to use. Also I can use it to build new
stuff. The contract is: we (google) provide the basic GIS environment and
you (developers) provide your data to be geolocated. Put all this in the
creative oven for some minutes and come back with a cooked application.

In the past, an operating system was restricted to file and process access.
It then evolved into more sophisticated library providing more services.
However one thing remained the same: NO DATA. We deal was, we (Microsoft)
provide the services or functions and you provide the data.

What is happening slowly on the web is a new kind of deal. We (google,
amazon, yahoo and tutti quanti) provide some data and a set of services.
Merge this with you data+service or with another party data+service and
build something new. It's a whole new game.

So, for the people saying that we do not see an operating system on the web
you are right and they other saying that it does you are right. Both simply
do not have the same definition of what an operating system is.

It reminds me of a time, in a previous life when I made a demo on Xerox star
showing a revolutionary system now so common on your desktops, I heard a
voice in the back saying "nice and beautiful graphics. Is it possible to
make a terminal with this? Our customers want a terminal!". Other times,
different words, same story. They got their version of what a computer is (a
mainframe with dummy terminals) and we got ours ( an intelligent and
friendly workstation). 

If I have a word of advise for the naysayers of this world, stop flaming,
stop talking and just observe and as to yourself "what is behind this?",
"what is new?". After all these years going through revolutions and
regressions I learned that wisdom starts with observation and creativity
with combination and quite often courage to support all of us who do not
like their cheese to be moved.

OK now it's the time for very important things in life, go play with my
daughter in the pool. Okay Amy, here I come... splash and big laughs :-)

Didier PH Martin 


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