Archived entries for Social Web

No, Mr. O’Reilly, it’s not all back-end

Tim O’Reilly, in a nice rebuttal to the flame up of silly "Web 3.0" noise over the last few days, gets much right. I agree with everything up until he writes:

Google is the pre-eminent Web 2.0 success story, and it’s all back-end! Every major web 2.0 play is a back-end story. It’s all about building applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them–and you can only do that with a richer back end.

Um, no. I agree with his reminder that Web 2.0 does not equal some specific technology (ahem, DHTML/Ajax), but to say that front-end magic has nothing to do with the Web’s 2.0 resurgence, or, more specifically, that front-end technology has nothing to do with Google’s darling status just doesn’t cut it for me.

[Oddpost and] Gmail reminded most of us that you shouldn’t need a page refresh to read your web mail, and that the improved efficiently is good, welcome, and here to stay. Sure, it’s cool their back-end provides unlimited storage and great spam filtering, but it’s the great interface that gets people’s hearts beating and them coming back for more. [G]Maps noted that in the real world you can slide the map left and right in front of your eyes, and that offering the same direct-manipulation interface online is better than the one-tile-at-a-time approach. Sure, Satellite and Hybrid views are cool, but without drag and drop the game hasn’t changed. (TerraServer and others offered Satellite view since the last 90’s at least, but it wasn’t a gamechanger.) Tags are cool, and he’s correct that Flickr is largely a network-effect play — but Flickr also showed that reducing the cost of adding tags (by not requiring a refresh) made for more tagging, and therefore more network effect. Google Docs (previously Writely) is all about complex front-end engineering.

I grant that these services are made possible by increasingly sophisticated back-end systems, and that other Web 2.0 systems such as Last.fm or Ad Sense are fundamentally back-end systems. But to say that the world’s Web 2.0 fascination is related exclusively to clever back-end shenanigans misses the mark. My point is that you wouldn’t recognize Web 2.0 without the glamour and power of today’s front-end interfaces and techniques..

It’s never been a better time to be doing front-end engineering. DHTML/Ajax is not Web 2.0, but it’s hard for me to imagine the recent resurgence without it.

teaching the machine

A video called “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us” is an engaging and enjoyable 4.5 minute non-verbal documentary taking us from ‘pencil’ to ‘Web 2.0′. It adds context to the advances that got us here, and suggests what might yet be in store. At about 03:40, highlights from an August 2005 Wired article, “We Are the Web,” are used to suggest that we are “teaching the machine.” I’m afraid that that notion is still inadequately understood and appreciated.

Perhaps the so-called “social web” isn’t about connecting people (not about helping people socialize), but about information conservation: If a person chooses to do something — no matter how small — it’s inherently interesting, precious, and valuable. We’ve barely started to figure out what to do with this second-generation information. Where we have it’s been exciting, useful, and successful: Flickr’s Interestingness and Clusters, the notion of “watching” on Upcoming, the newer “people who looked at this ultimately bought that” in Amazon, and of course Google’s PageRank. The idea isn’t new, but it’s still under appreciated.

Here’s the paragraph from Wired that surrounds the words used in the video:

And who will write the software that makes this contraption useful and productive? We will. In fact, we’re already doing it, each of us, every day. When we post and then tag pictures on the community photo album Flickr, we are teaching the Machine to give names to images. The thickening links between caption and picture form a neural net that can learn. Think of the 100 billion times per day humans click on a Web page as a way of teaching the Machine what we think is important. Each time we forge a link between words, we teach it an idea. Wikipedia encourages its citizen authors to link each fact in an article to a reference citation. Over time, a Wikipedia article becomes totally underlined in blue as ideas are cross-referenced. That massive cross-referencing is how brains think and remember. It is how neural nets answer questions. It is how our global skin of neurons will adapt autonomously and acquire a higher level of knowledge.

Here’s the video, which was created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University:

(via via)

If you use Firefox and Delicious…

…then you definitely want to install this Firefox extension that seamlessly integrates del.icio.us with Firefox’s internal bookmarking system: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/3615/.

Really, it just feels right. It works just how it would if you designed it yourself. Seamless. Flawless. I’ve been bookmarking about 20x more links since I started using this tool. Love it. Install it now.

Notes

  • During the installation process be sure to click “sync” to avoid losing your current Firefox bookmarks and links-bar bookmarklets.
  • Don’t worry, you can still save private bookmarks by clicking “Do Not Share” during the normal bookmarking process.
  • You can still use “keyword search” and navigation keywords, but it’s a bit non-obvious. To create a keyword, save your link, then save it again to see the keywords field show up.

Enjoy!

Open Sourced: Second Life

Interesting new this morning: Second Life (Viewer) in now an open source project. Though I’m not active in Second Life, I’m intrigued and think this development says good things about its future. Very interesting.

They only open-sourced the Viewer, but in many ways — almost by definition — they world/environment is already open-source. I guess the laws of physics for SL are not yet open, but that doesn’t bother me.

Releasing the source now is our next invitation to the world to help build this global space for communication, business, and entertainment. … [W]e welcome the inevitable with open arms.

Update: Marshall Kirkpatrick asks, in a paraphrase of WeBreakStuff, if the open-sourcing of the Viewer is akin to the early WWW days when “the early proliferation of browsers made the web much more usable.”

Second Life’s CEO Speaking in SF Thursday

O’Reilly Radar > Second Life at Seminars on Long Term Thinking

Thursday evening, the founder and CEO of “Second Life,” Philip Rosedale, will explore some of the early lessons about long-term thinking (and everything else) to be gleaned from the emergent behaviors of massive multi-player world building…

“‘Second Life:’ What Do We Learn If We Digitize EVERYTHING?” Philip Rosedale, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 7pm, Thursday, November 30. The lecture starts promptly at 7:30pm. Admission is free (a $10 donation is welcome, not required).

MySpace Video bests YouTube; Yahoo! Video has Most Uniques

I wouldn’t have guessed it, and most wouldn’t by looking at the trends, but Bambi Francisco at MarketWatch reported a few minutes ago on comScore numbers showing that of the 7.1BB vidoes streamed by 106MM unique people

“Yahoo! [is] the No. 2 most popular video site as measured by video streams. Yahoo ranks No. 1 as measured by unique streamers (similar to unique visitors), but barely beats out MySpace.
YouTube ranks No. 3, having generated 649 million video streams in July. … MySpace’s figures do not include YouTube videos viewed on MySpace. The views are only of the site’s own videos viewed either on their property or embedded across the Web on blogs or on distribution partners. So, YouTube’s 649 million video streams count the videos viewed on YouTube as well as blogs that might have embedded a YouTube video.”

Yahoo also has the second-highest streams per streamer at 39.

YouTube streamed 79.9% of Yahoo!’s count, while Google came in 8th with just 7.4% of Yahoo!’s streams (and only 7.9 steams/streamer).

I have no problem admitting that I’ve watched tons of YouTube videos, and, while a much smaller number, I’ve watched many more on Google than Yahoo. I’ve never watched a MySpace video. YouTube’s player Just Works, and that makes all the difference. No matter what happens in the industry shakeout, I am personally grateful to them for making video a reality online.



San Francisco, California | Creative Commons By-2.5 License | Contact

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.