Mention the words “Web 2.0” to me and you’ll usually be greeted with a slight snarl and maybe a comment or two about how the web doesn’t really have version numbers. Sure I can appreciate the idea that after the dot com bust companies shifted their focus from just having a web presence to truly leveraging the Internet but it still never sits right in my head. However with my recent foraying into rich web application development I’ve come to realise that if I try to describe what I’m doing using any other term I usually get blank stares from those supposedly “in the know”, so I’ve relegated myself to using the term. At least just in general terms to describe something that’s on the web but feels like a desktop application.
With all this angst that I had built up for Web 2.0 applications it was nice then to see an example of a something I would deem Web 2.0-ish that added value to my browsing experience rather than trying to do nothing but make money off it:
Basically there was a term I didn’t understand (it was Latin after all) in an article so I decided to highlight it and copy it into Google so I could find out what it was. Imagine my surprise when a little question mark popped up and upon clicking it, a definition of the word popped up. For me as a user of this site it’s quite handy, since I can just highlight and click. For the content provider it is doubly advantageous as I don’t leave their web page to go hunting around for a dictionary defintion, and I also give them another page view which helps with their revenue. Overall it’s a win-win situation for everyone and has helped to soften my harsh view on the whole Web 2.0 scene.
The problem I initially had with many Web 2.0 oriented companies was that their only selling point was that the application looked flashy and was driven to generate as much revenue as possible off the user’s experience. For most end users this was all transparent and I can’t deny that the business model has worked for a few of the current web giants. As an IT professional however the lack of value that could be derived from using this applications only served to make me look like an Internet Luddite, wishing for the good old times when pages rendered fast and I didn’t need to download flash to run 90% of sites on the web. With the Web 2.0 crowd now having to mature their business models in order to survive in an increasingly harsh and competitive environment we’re now starting to see some applications with true value enhancing experiences for the end user, something that I felt had been lacking up until now.
This idea is what has been driving force behind me developing Geon and hopefully with the way things are going I won’t be too far off providing some added value to the information its bringing in. Of course since this is a bit of a side project for me the plans to try and monetize it are a bit far off (and indeed, I have little experience in dealing with advertisers) so it’s not a grab for cash yet, so hopefully I won’t be alienating people like myself right off the bat.
As with all new technology there comes a time when the platform matures to the point where the fact that something is built on it or uses it is no longer novel, and that’s the point when the true innovation can begin. The next few years will bring out some truly amazing stuff which I, for one, can’t wait to see.
Tune in five years from now to see me ranting about Web 3.0 😉