First off, what the hell is Web 2.0? For many, Web 2.0 is about the syndication and collaboration. It is also about a migration to the web as a platform for application development. That meant migrating all of the data trapped on everyone’s desktops to the web, allowing your pictures to be shared with friends quickly and easily, or your documents to be saved in the cloud so that you and a bunch of friends could collaborate from the 5 or more different places you are during the day. In my opinion the best part about Web 2.0 was the stunning interfaces it presented. The developers realized they could create all the same eye candy as a desktop application on the web. Most significantly, Web 2.0 is about accessibility and scalability. It is about giving quick and easy access of software to as many people as possible, and on every platform that they may have, be it their computer, mobile device or braille screen. Oh yea, I said all people so that means physically handicapped people must enjoy the same beautiful experience in accessing their data through software as every man with two eyes, ears, and a pair of hands.
So, how have we done? This is a really tough question to answer, but I am gonna go with a “we’re workin’ on it.” I consider myself a power-user and I would not say I have want I think to be true accessibility to my information. So what exactly do I mean when I say truly accessible data? I mean data that is where you want it, when you want it. This goes further as I take it to include something tailored to me on my particular device. That means that if I want news while I am eating my breakfast, I better get news that includes topics that I like to read or watch on whatever the nearest suitable display is.
What is keeping us from having the news along with our friend’s latest updates (categorized by who you like more of course) next to my bowl of cereal? If you were eating breakfast on a Microsoft Surface, sure we could get you some interesting news over to the side of your bowl of cereal. Problem is that I really cannot afford a Surface of my own (damn economy). Right now, I get my news via my iPhone or my MacBook Pro and a bunch of RSS streams ripped apart by Google Reader. Sure it works, but it is not tailored to me. Sometimes my Facebook does a better job of keeping me in touch with the world. The next generation of web applications will do a better job sorting through this data overload I get from not just my Facebook and Twitter, but all of the RSS feeds that I read.
Fever. Now that is a company with a real Web 2.0 model. A one time fee gets your access to a set of code that allows you to harness the computing power you have to show you the hottest things on the web. The updates and actual installation of the software makes it a little less than ideal for the average Joe, but it remains to be a good example of a next generation web application. I think the next generation will be brining our computers processing powers to the web to enhance our personal experience. I wonder if the Google Chrome OS will actually do just that. Take any multi-player first person shooter game (like Call of Duty) as an example and you will see that each user renders their own experience based on a map of data that is shared through the web. The scary thing is that some of us are sick and scared of the web as a platform for our data. The privacy issues terrify people. I still find it shocking that all our medical records are on paper still. I still wonder how many diseases we could cure with proper sharing of medical information, maybe thats where the cure to cancer is hidden, in the data.
So what really is the next step for the web? Before the web takes another step forward, it is going to need to get the harnesses on its data. People need to always know what parts of their data are visible in the cloud. They really want to know what sensitive data is where, and who has access to a copy of it. The data they want to see should be delivered to them, tailored to fit the needs they are able to express to the machine. The next web is a beautiful looking web taylored to your needs, and it is coming with accessible design and development.