Web 2.0: The Next Generation is Starting (2005)

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Summary:

The new Web 2.0 has quietly emerged; well, maybe not so quietly for those who were paying attention. But it is already changing the way we design, develop, test, and release Web applications. This change came about from users' new expectations of the Web. Web developers' and programmers' willingness to adopt these new expectations will not only change the way we see the Web, but will also change the way in which we work every day.

The new Web 2.0 has quietly emerged; well, maybe not so quietly for those who were paying attention. But it is already changing the way we design, develop, test, and release Web applications. This change came about from users' new expectations of the Web. Web developers' and programmers' willingness to adopt these new expectations will not only change the way we see the Web, but will also change the way in which we work every day.

Over the past few months I've heard the term "Web 2.0" being tossed about in casual conversation--usually in conversations about newer asynchronous JavaScript and XML style user interactions. "Ajax" is a geeky way of defining the way that information on the page updates quickly in response to what you do, without the need to click a submit button to send a request to the server. Jesse James Garret first used the term to describe the techniques used by Google's gMail and Maps to asynchronously message the server to refresh data on a Web page. Google didn't invent it-just popularized it. Ajax makes Web applications start to behave as responsively as desktop applications-alleviates the annoyance of watching an hourglass while a Web page refreshes.

But that definitely is not the whole story.

Dale Dougherty of O'Reilly Media and Craig Cline of MediaLive coined the term to name the first Web 2.0 conference in 2004. They and the hundreds of people attending the conference all knew something profound was happening to the Web.

How to Spot a Web 2.0 Application in the Wild:
Web 2.0 applications
are more simple, responsive, and usable. Have you noticed that some Web sites are more responsive than others? Not only do these sites seem to load and navigate more quickly, these sites also seem to anticipate the information you need-information that is then presented to you before you start to look for it.

Because Web developers anticipate a higher need for certain information, the Web can be used for things you might not have previously thought possible. Google Maps makes it possible for me to see my house from a few thousand feet in the air, and I can see pictures that people took around my city on Google Earth with geo-tagged Flickr photos hacked in. Geo-tagged photos indicate your exact location on Earth using latitude, longitude, degrees, minutes, and seconds.

Web 2.0 Applications Leverage User Participation and Collaboration
You may have noticed that the Internet is becoming a more respected news source, that blogs carry interesting information, that Amazon.com can predict what books you might like, and how you can trust Imdb.com to provide good movie reviews. Amazon.com has redefined retail browsing by leveraging a visitor's viewing and buying habits to help him find what he's looking for-and even things he didn't realize he was looking for! eBay.com leverages a community of users to help each conduct business with minimal involvement from a middleman. Flickr.com and LiveJournal.com give you a way to find and talk to others with common interests from all over the planet. Del.icio.us leverages others' bookmarks giving you new ways of finding information on the Web. The Web has more of a human face, and the information you trust more often comes from people like you.

Web 2.0 Applications Are Built to Mix
You may have noticed that a few smart people, just like you, are doing some pretty incredible things on the Web. Paul Rademacher was having a hard time visualizing the swarm of new rentals appearing on the popular Craigslist.com, so, on his own, he built Housingmaps.com that merges Craigslist.com's housing data with Google

About the author

Jeff Patton's picture Jeff Patton

Jeff Patton leads Agile Product Design, a small consultancy that focuses on creating healthy processes that result in products that customers love. Articles, essays, and blog can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com. Information about public classes, including Certified Scrum Training, can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com/training.

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