Sunday, June 17, 2007

How the computer industry makes people happy

First there were giant computers that had an enormous rooms to hold their 10MB memory, people took turns on using them, and there were experts who know how to use them, everyone had his job role, and everybody were happy.
Then, someone came with the bright idea that hooking several monitors to the same large computer will allow more people to work on it simultaneously, which let to having a mainframe with many terminals. Many people used their terminals to work on the same computer, this helped them save time, and everybody were happy.
Around that time, somebody important in the computer business said something that can be interpreted like there no reason for people to have computers at their home (he actually said that there is no need to more then a few computers in the world, the interpretation is mine). Nevertheless, IBM came with the idea of PC, which stands for personal computer. This resulted in the situation where almost every one bought computers to their homes and offices. This led to the need of software that could be installed on many computers, which led to the way things worked and still work today - software versions and buying a software usage license rather then buying the software. Still, people got used to it and everybody were happy.
Then came the web, and with it the ability to share data among people. Still, it was slow and you couldn't put software on one computer and use it on another. Yet, after the communication speed grew and grew, companies started to see that the option of putting software in one place, and use if from another (either to put data on a database or perform a search) is possible. These companies liked it, they thought that the more people use their software, they earnings would grow, so they persuaded other people that this is true, until everybody were convinced that this is true, and when they noticed that there is no income, it was too late and this bubble exploded. Now many people weren't happy.
However, they kept on thinking "what's next?", and they found the answer. The thing that should come next is the past. If it is possible to run software on one computer, and use it on many others, why not allow many people to use it, and harness this fact to make money. This started the "software as a service" era, which is actually beginning as I type these lines. This causes the concept of selling software licenses to fade, alongside the concept of different software versions to different people. These people called this idea web2.0, which made them happy.
Moreover, the people that were happy in the distant past call it an improved mainframe, which makes them say that they did all this 30 years ago, and therefore making them feel right and needed, which makes them fill happy.
So, what is really next, my guess is that somehow the cellular technology would improve and will go through similar processes. This would result in people buying their cellphones , and use any kind of software they want as a cellular web service - the calendar and phone book will be on sites that people would just register to, and thus changing the cellphone would not result in any loss - either of data or a familiar interface, because the cellphone would just be a mobile computer that can also make phone calls.

I think that this will cause many people to be happy.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

a little bit about web 2.0

Web 2.0 is perceived as the new way that the web works. Exactly what is web 2.0 nobody really seems to define exactly; Is it the collaborative aspect of the web?, and if so, does old web sites that allowed users to add their comments were web 2.0?
Is it be that sites that use the Ajax technology are a web 2.0 sites, or are they just sites with an improved user experience? as far as I see it, web 2.0 is a revolution in the current technology.

Through out the history, any technological revolution was based upon several pillars, which can be summarized to these: the technological advance pillar, the business model pillar and the platform pillar.
The technological advance pillar is basically the answer to the question "what's new in this technology?", The business model pillar is the answer to the question "how would somebody make profit out of it?" and the platform pillar is the answer to the question "what would drive this technology forward in order to allow people to use it?"

Think of past technological revolutions, and see that they had to stand on these pillars. It may be the industrial revolution or the antibiotics revolution, still, all these questions had to be answered.
So how does web 2.0 answers these questions? the technology is Ajax, the business model is the long tail and collaboration and the the platform is the web.
Sounds simple, but not. Ajax (stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a combination of several "old" web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, CSS, DOM and XMLHTTPRequest. So basically there is nothing new here - just the way of using it. The long tail is a concept that uses the non-existing physical limitations of the web to harness its mass exposure in order to make money. There is no shelf space limit on the web, so Amazon can offer millions of books to sell, much more then any other book store. The collaborative aspect of the web allows users to talk to other users directly and create new content and data, that allows creating new types of business. And thinking of the web as the platform, and not just as an additional way to communicate allows all this to happen.
So, what defines a site to be a web 2.0 or not, in my opinion, if you make money out of it, not just by displaying your merchandise and selling it (and it could be either physical goods like books or virtual like advertising or information), but also allow the users to interact and influence the system, hopefully using Ajax to improve the site's user experience, then this is a web 2.0 site, otherwise, it is not.