Web 2.0 is exciting stuff, even if we're all sick of the name. It was catchy back in 2002? when it was introduced by mr. o'reilly. What does it all mean? It means another rambling, incoherent post from me. GO!
Blah blah mash-ups, API's, Web services. The cool thing about now is you can suck in information from lots of different sources around the web, mash it up, and SPEW it out to your users. When it works, it's a "sum is greater than the parts" kind of thing. Many mash-up sites are just pet rocks, but some are very handy indeed.
A new useful thing every day
Over the last four years, I've noticed a killer trend. Almost without fail, everyday, somebody releases a code library (or technique) that shaves HOURS off your development time. You think to yourself, "ahh, jeez, beaver...I really want some round corners for my div's, but that junk'll take the rest of my life to mess with, and lumpy's buggin me about that double date at the elks club tonight."
These days, you just sit on your fat ass for a week or so, and some beautiful person releases a library to do it all for you. "Just add this one line in your header and you're all set!" they say. And I do. And it works. And I'm all.
The current wave of innovation would not be possible without A LOT of open source software. Fin. Done. CYLENCE.
I have loved open source long time since 1996. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass, but it is never a pain in the ass for long. It is just a Transasspain. Dude, you KNOW Bill Gates is a closet linux fan. If he were 20 right now and just starting out, he sure ass hell would be a linux hacker.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
See Open Source above. Also, the fact that there are so many people freely sharing information about how to build software, services, and big web sites (and providing details, unlike 1999). This has produced an explosive transfer of knowledge, and an explosive application of that knowledge (in the form of lots of internet startups, goods, and services). Everyone build build build, but don't forget the catalysts that made it all happen (like linux, freebsd, apache, mysql, postgres, rails, php, memcached, squid, lucene, prototype, firefox, tinymce, htmlarea, and fckeditor (yeah writely, you know me!), etc. and so on). If you're making money, cough up a small percentage of profits and dole it out to all the open source projects you're using to make your money. It's only fair.
Watching giants fall on their ass (schadenfreude)
Google. Yahoo. Microsoft. What they are calling GYM. People LOVE to watch them stumble. Google- What's with buying Writely? 4000 PhD's can't hack tinymce and make a wysiwyg text area app? Yikes. Yahoo- Reinventing itself as a developer-friendly powerhouse. Doing mostly right things, but they always seem to get slammed on their media stuff. Microsoft-- They invented "Ajax" -- but they usually don't receive the credit. Their various "Live" initiatives are surprisingly well-done. The press mainly focuses on their Vista screw-ups...but that same press will be all GOOGly-eyed when Vista is released...and looks pretty damn good and introduces feeds/internet services (yeah, it will be like Active Desktop NOT 1998) into the fundamental underpinnings of the OS.
What's old is new again (rehash-ups)
In every generation, some smart ducks figure out they can repackage some old shit and sell it as something totally new. How can they do this? onaccounta their younger audience hasn't seen it before, and thus it truly is new to them. For example:
Digg - The new kuro5hin
Digg is cool, and has some great web 2.0 look-n-feel/features, but don't kid yourself: it is kuro5hin 2.0. It is a little more open, a lot more popular, but I cringe every-time I read an article about how Kevin Rose had some flash of inspiration (screen savers ruled) and created digg from the ether. Come on, give credit where credit is due.
Google - their whole modus operandi is to take stuff that exists, but sucks, and rehash it to make it suck less.
Search - web search in 1998 sucked ALL kinds of ass. I used alta vista, because it sucked the least. Sometimes lycos (I liked their old logo), sometimes excite, sometimes webcrawler; but, they all sucked. It took forever to find anything. Google fixed this.
Mail - Before gmail, you had your choice of yahoo mail (egads), hotmail (eek), and a bunch of smaller web mail providers. You had squirrel mail for your own server. Things were bleak. Gmail fixed web mail, and now you can't walk down El Camino without falling over an ajax enabled, unlimited storage, web mail solution.
Maps - Yep, before google maps, you had yahoo mapquest. Did the job for years, but was instantly hucked with the arrival of google maps. Now, you can't sit idly on 237 for very long without tripping over an ajaxified map solution.
Calendar - Web calendars have especially sucked for a long, long time. Google just released their calendar, and it works very nice. A quality app for sure. There are already a bunch of web calendars out there, and many of them are good. I hope they can keep their users.
MySpace - AOL meets Web 1.5
MySpace will soon be among the top 5 most visited web sites on the internet. The traffic they generate is beyond belief. They took the "wow, chatting with people online!!!LOL!" thing of AOL, mixed in some Friendster, and spewed-out the new AOL. The initial traffic for the site was created by a genius move: create band sites on myspace, and let people interact with the band online. This was so holistic to the lives of 14-25 year-olds, in addition to keeping track of what all your friends were doing/saying, that new user sign-ups skyrocketed. Network effects kicked in (this is always neat when it occurs), and before long, you were completely out of the loop if you weren't on MySpace. You were missing-out BIG TIME. A total frenzy continues to this day, and MySpace probably serves 80-90% of all 14-25 year-olds in the U.S. alone. This allows them to charge millions per day to run an ad on the site, cuz HELL, you're ad gets seen by equivalent of 10 superbowls PER HOUR. I guess that's worth some serious cash. But that age group is fickle. You have to keep on your toes, lest they ALL move over to tagworld or something, and leave you with the sound of crickets across your thousands of windows servers.
The dot com bubble equivalent of the 70's. Sell a rock in a box for ca$h. Modern rehash of the pet rock? Mash-ups? AC/DC t-shirts on eleven year olds? OK, I admit the "classic rock" t-shirts on kids are pretty cool. Fine.
"A modern retelling of..." insert intelligent old movie that will be ruined by the "new" (read shit) version
"The Remake" -- Now, I'm trying to be fair, and think of a recent remake that was even slightly better than complete shit. hmmm.
The Pink Panther - I took one look at the trailer and declared this absolute garbage. I am always correct.
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory - Not as interesting as Willy Wonka.
They all suck.
HOT or Luke Warm:
War of the Worlds - The first 1/2 of this movie was impressive. Second half, eh.
Oceans Eleven - good.
Napoleon Dynamite - kind of a modern Ferris Bueller, but with it's p0Wn thing going on. A triumph. A 10. Serious skills.
Lesson? Stop remaking (ruining) old movies/tv shows. You (the studios) should have enough money, and at least ONE person working for you who is NOT a mindless idiot. Somebody with some ideas. Or, at least, somebody who can recognize SOMEONE ELSE with some good ideas, and let them make some decisions. And don't cry to me that it's "hard," and "complex," because you have all the scripts, ideas, and talent handed to you on a silver platter every single day. The reason there is SO MUCH shit? The decision makers can't make effective decisions. Simple.
See, the rehash doesn't work with everything. It only works with stuff that sucked to begin with, but it was our only choice, and we had to deal with it. This doesn't apply to a lot of older movies. They were already nearly perfect, or perfect for their time, but don't work well with modern popular references (and WTF does? idiots). You can try to make a modern "Apocalypse Now" complete with lame pop music and retards saying,"BOOYAH!" - but, it will BLOW compared to the original because it is usually not subtle, not nuanced, and not deep.
Dude, you can go way far rehashing something that sucks, since any improvement is a move in the up direction. With stuff that is already near perfect, it takes a lot of resources to improve upon it. Most people don't have those resources. The other option is to take something that is perfect, and invert it, or apply it to some unrelated area. This is known as disruption, and it (usually) creates really cool stuff and forces everyone to think in a completely new way.
What's really new
So, what is REALLY new? What applications are doing something not seen before? The answer is: not many. The reason: it's hard.
without naming specific companies and all that, i've heard about some concepts which are fundamentally quite different:
* people powered lending: lots of people invest small amounts into a "bank," lots of people get a loan from the bank. The bank gets a cut, the investors get interest, the loan seekers get loans without a lot of friction...all pretty much automated. Much less friction than standard financial institutions. Has not yet been implemented well, but will be eventually. This is "taking something near perfect (lending) and inverting it." I'm waiting for the venture capital version of this ;)
* 200 foot sentient robots operated by telepathic fourteen-year-olds
* group intelligence coupled with artificial intelligence to create personalized information filters
* all the apps I'm working on
* virtualized, containerized, platform independent systems
* time-based movement through applications, operating systems, and other interfaces to your data