More Web 2.0 Questions

The explosive discussion about the definition of Web 2.0 raises more questions than it answers. That’s a good thing! We’re learning here. One facet of this discussion, however, that I would like to see more of is the value of Web 2.0 for developers. I assume more and more developers are hearing about Web 2.0 […]

The explosive discussion about the definition of Web 2.0 raises more questions than it answers. That’s a good thing! We’re learning here. One facet of this discussion, however, that I would like to see more of is the value of Web 2.0 for developers. I assume more and more developers are hearing about Web 2.0 every day, but it’s not clear what’s in it for them.

It’s one thing to look at Amazon and say “they’re creating a really powerful platform”. It’s another to ask “what can I learn from Amazon that helps me build better applications?”. Defining Web 2.0 is fun, building it is hard. So while we’re still defining it I’m going to add some more developer-centered questions to the mix.

Note that users = people/customers/humans/folks/prosumers/etc. (whichever you prefer)

  1. How do my users value content?
  2. How do my users share content with others?
  3. Who do they share content with?
  4. Do my users interact with each other? If so, where and how? If not, why not, and would there be benefits to that?
  5. What answers do my users want to know?
  6. How can I create a data store in which trend-watching becomes possible?
  7. What trends are we seeing now, and what do we need to do to show more of them?
  8. Would releasing a developer API add value to our data store?
  9. How could other people find value in our data store?

These questions basically boil down to one:

How can I create an architecture of participation that adds value for both me and the people participating?

Going further, how else can developers help us represent our social lives online? There are many ways, and many levels of fidelity to aim for. Here are some simple examples, mostly in order, from most specific to most general:

  • A product review at Amazon is a representation of a conversation between two people
  • Jotspot Live is a representation of conversations between colleagues
  • A star review at Amazon is a representation of collective group conversation
  • Recommendation systems, in general, are representations of collective word-of-mouth
  • Google Search is a representation of collective linking behavior of nearly everyone
  • Email is a representation of conversations
  • Typing is a representation of speech
  • Words are representations of thought

So, in a sense Web 2.0 is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but an online representation of the human one.

Published: September 29th, 2005

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