Web 2.0: I make it, but don’t use it

I think I’m using Web 2.0 wrong. I’m really feeling left out, and am starting to feel I’m either not as much as a geek as I thought I was, am doing something wrong, or am just being a late blooming user.

What I do use

I use very few web apps compared to what’s available in my daily and weekly routine. I use Fullasagoog & MXNA to read blogs. I consider both to have some forms of web applications in that both have various ways to see and control data through visualizations.

I use Flickr everytime I have new pictures, whether emailing from my phone, or from cameras we have.

I link to Wikipedia a lot.

I turn JavaScript back on in Firefox, and use Google Maps when I’m heading somewhere new; usually once every 2 weeks.

If I need to bypass a stupid sign up page, I use bugmenot.com. If I need a fake email if bugmenot doesn’t work, I use mailinator.com.

What I don’t use

Everything else is a website, not a web application. One could argue when I utilize a dynamic element on a form when purchasing airline tickets online, that’s it a web application, but I’d disagree; it’s just a really well written form in an airline website; 1 integral part to the site, not a standalone application deployed via a the browser.

After taking a blog survey, I’ve just been made aware of a plethora of media hosting services I had no clue about, nor why I should care.

Grokster, MySpace, etc. don’t appeal to me. I get invites, but ignore them. I’ve signed up for LinkedIn, and maintain most of the connections I get, but receive no ascertainable value for my time spent.

I used Del.icio.us once, but my Firefox bookmarks work just fine, and if someone blogs about a link, posts it on a mailing lists, or emails it to me, and I feel like I’d like to reference it later, Control + B, done.

I used Ning once, even signed up to be a beta tester & developer, but quickly lost interest; I didn’t get it, and as any typical user would do, gave it 10 seconds, and left. I then did what a curious developer would do, and gave it 2 more chances. Still didn’t get it. Left.

Google’s RSS reader was annoying; like, some things didn’t refresh the page, so I didn’t really know if something had happened. Sometimes my back button worked, other times it worked for really weird things.

I’ve yet to see the point of getting Gmail. While my manager from a past job made an extremely good case for it, Outlook Express, patched, works great in sorting mailing lists, and my delete key kills Spam dead. Again, mailinator solves the need of a seperate email, and I found out I accidentally have a Yahoo! one from a Yahoo! account I forgot I had.

The mashups from Google Maps and Yahoo Maps, while awesome from a geek standpoint, do me no good. You think I’m going to remember what was what, and where to find it? Unless Real-estate sites that I’d probably use once in my lifetime put them on their sites, which Yahoo! allows, then maybe I’d use it. That’s a very short window of opportunity for them.

Confused About Web 2.0

I have read Tim’s original defintion of Web 2.0, as well as the compare and contrast followup.

Hoping one of the good AJAX & Web 2.0 bloggers, Jonathan Boutelle could answer my dilema via a real-world application. After reading Jonathan Boutelle’s blog entry about MindCanvas, I became extremely frustrated reading the site. Nothing told me how to use the product. Oh yes, there was plenty of info about it, but no link. No text on the site, that I found, said anything about it being in beta, and thus making this site really not in my best interest to be viewing with false hopes. I managed to pacify my frustration from the context of his blog entry.

Everytime I read an O’Reilly blog I get more confused and frustrated. There is this assumed thing about the industry that I just don’t get. I mean, I’m a geek, aren’t I supposed to be ahead of the user curve by 2 years, and they 2 behind? I feel like I’m with the users on this one; I don’t get it.

Apparently, now the technology I have been using in my career suddenly empowers me to create Web 2.0 experiences and applications as well. While reading these nebulous definitions of what Web 2.0 is, I still respect the opinions since the majority of what I’ve read comes from competent individuals, and as such, I’ve tried to let things play out over the course of the last few months to see if I can use some early hindsight on the debates, discussions, and new web applications that are put under the new moniker of Web 2.0 to see if some true context would happen. I’m really trying to keep an open mind on this.

It didn’t. At least, not for me.

Stranger Context

I read the supposed leaked memo from Bill Gates, which I haven’t gotten confirmation on if it’s legit, but read it just the same. So far it’s the only thing that makes sense business wise. I use Word; it works, I don’t want to change. I usually upgrade, by accident, every 3 versions. So, it’ll probably be accident again; I won’t find it installed, or I will, but it’ll be a link to Windows Live, which has a free, 1 year subscription to “Word Online”. Ok, so I just have to use it in a souped up version of IE. Whatever, as long as it works.

In terms of capability, I really liked Scott Barnes take on the whole mess.

However, reading Ryan’s latest entry, I was extremely confused. The desktop, with some network aware applications, is my life; how could it be ending? Without desktop applications, I’d be f00ked.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve read plenty of blogs where old-skoolers remember the jumps from client to server, and server back to client; using the metaphor of a pendulum to basically show how things are swinging back to the client again in the industry currently.


So, I guess, bottom line, I’m confused on why I don’t use as many web apps as people are apparently using. I’m confused on what is defined as a Web 2.0 web application; what is the criteria, and how much desktop is allowed into the picture? How do non-Microsoft entities expect to really capture that desktop experience with the use of browser extensions?

Maybe I do use Web 2.0 and don’t know it… I certainly don’t get it, though. I’d much rather have occasionally connected, desktop agnostic applications that could utilize net connectivity when it’s available. Like Microsoft’s SmartClient or whatever new incarnation of Macromedia Central ends up being.

Browsers suck for developing software; only reason I survive is because Flash Player actually works. Maybe I should just go learn C and crawl in a hole until this whole thing blows over and I can use some real, working hindsight.

18 Replies to “Web 2.0: I make it, but don’t use it”

  1. Well freaking said Jess!

    I consider myself a fairly intellegent bloke, but mate, i’ll be assed if i can pin home wtf ‘Web 2.0’ is and what it stands for as from what i’ve been reading, its so thinly spread and used to do nothing more then elevate the ‘Open Source’ movement under a different ‘heading’.

    Exposing API’s for others to re-use seems to be at the core of what i can gather web2.0 is about, yet i still don’t see how the revolution is here?

    For me, Web2.0 is bigger, better UI + Backends…done in more universal ways (ie XML – MXML, BPEL, AXML, XHTML, etc..)

  2. you’re already falling behind, jesse… don’t forget that those annoying, good for nothing, mailing list leeching, email selling bastards over at Roomity have a ‘web 2.01 community webapp’… see that! there’s already been an upgrade to 2.01 when nobody knows WTF ‘web 2.0’ even is!!!

    and keeping my fingers crossed that Nick was being sarcastic…


  3. I just think its something like this. The web hit mainstream, and there was the boom, everybody said ‘wow, we can do all this futuristic cool graphics stuff now, and reach out to the world and…evrybody’s computers locked up. In a short time we have jumped from MB disks to TB hardrives, from pentium 90’s to who knows what. Suddenly, everybody’s getting the bandwidth, walmart pc’s will handle it, and the cool stuff will actually work for the avg user. Thats my web 2.

    As far as the big AJAX, tagging, mashup things go, I think that since the tech is so much more reliable now, there is more incentive to use stuff, and everybody just has a big holy shit reaction everytime they see the coolness working.

  4. Yeah, Ive said it before and because its the only thing I remember from tech ill say it again. ‘Content is king’, At the moment there just isnt any/the right content to make people like yourself say thats just what I need (and subsequently carry on using it in day to day life). And remember its early days. Just to round up I am in a similar boat. I just dont find myself using them.

  5. Hey Jesse,

    Sorry to frustrate and enrage you!

    Just to be clear, I wouldn’t consider MindCanvas to be Web 2.0 at all. One of the things I’m most strident about it the belief that we need to disentangle rich clients (RIA/AJAX) from web 2.0. They are not the same thing.

    MindCanvas is a user research service. It’s a fairly specialized thing, and it more of a ‘business to business’ than ‘business to consumer’ play. So that’s probably why you searched in vain for a place on the site where you could actually try out our stuff, and were frustrated with only getting flash demos.

    I’ll post a link to a survey done with the system in the next few days, and ping you when I do. That should give you a better feel of what we’ve built.

    Also, good point about not having a ‘beta’ label on the site. Will fix that up pronto.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  6. web 2.0 is a buzzword for me, nothing more…
    its used by the industry to create a hype where there isnt any reason for it.
    well the web may get a little more usable and colored, w00t halleluja, lets call it web10.0 *irony*

  7. Brother, take it easy. I would rather just follow the big shots who are deep into it and take it slow, node heads and I think you will definitely learn along the way. I would rather just know things a little late than trying to lead others wrongly by acting as-if I-know-it-all. Nobody needed to learn what was the initial internet, so we won’t really need to for web 2.0, it is just like the onset of puberty, you will get used to it. ;-)

  8. I think developers are always going to prefer to have as much power on the desktop as possible, with fast access to local files.

    Some of the early Web applications are great, especially Gmail – and soon we’ll have a web based office application. The corporates and home users will be falling over each other to adopt that because it lowers the maintainance cost. No more viruses, trojans, firewalls. It’s a low cost solution.

    You’re not going to want to make that switch though, for the same reason you don’t want a typical locked-down corporate PC – the trade-off ain’t worth it for you, and it’s not because you’re not a geek, it’s because you are a geek.

  9. Not to sound sappy but…

    How long do you live? How long do you have fun and if those to seem to coincide, maybe your doing the right thing.

    Seems to me as atrippy tech hippy the solution is enjoy what comes down your road and enjoy the steering wheel you have.

    Seems to me you post is somewhat like the ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ manaility dealing with materialism. I’m sure you know things in a deeper way on a principle level and that is one thing that keeps you away from all these web 2.0 apps.

    There are people (hehe) not in cities that do manage to keep up with technology and development being a developer and not subscribe to a lot of time wasting crap that fills the heads of millions of humans.

    See, it’s simple, if you view life like your in it for yourself, you always win.

    Music is a good parrallel; If you play and love it, who cares if you are a rock star, you actually get the point of what music REALLY means. It’s personal and I think web development is exactly the same for us *developers*. Play don’t sulk over it!

    Peace, Mike

  10. yeah sure Web 2.0 is hype, but I’m vain like the rest of the world and will descredit your claims solely on the fact that your site has a terrible color scheme and format.

  11. I’m not crazy about the ‘Web 2.0’ name, but basically… this blog is Web 2.0. My comment here is Web 2.0. The Trackback ping that connects my blog to someone else’s is Web 2.0.

    In short, the concept behind the silly label is: ‘a web of services that are open to external contribution and consumption’. No AOL-like walled gardens, no lock-in, and interoperation via open standards. That’s Web 2.0 in a nutshell.

  12. I think for me my aspiration is the web was originally built to distribute documents. And creative people found a way to make applications on it; so web apps are nothing more than a glorified choose your own adventure book.

    My dream is I don’t want to be LOCKED INSIDE A BROWSER! Eg my recent post to the Flex2 list related to windowing that you responded to (thx), and hopefully Apollo will get us there, is can we get back to the net being this knowledge and service collective that behaves as a whole. And that applications don’t live inside another app (i.e IE :) ) – but do what applications have been doing since the GUI was invented…is that they live in a desktop. I’m talking about dragging and dropping anything onto anything and anything knowing what that is – with the distributable accessibility that the Web has provided and it’s ubiquitos platform agnostic nature.

  13. Tariq hits the nail on the head.

    You should see Web 2.0 as the ultimate seperation of function, content and design.

    The only Web 2.0 aspect of the whole AJAX hype is its original meaning. The fact that it uses an XML service to do stuff in the browser. But in a lot of cases this XML still contains very site-specific (html-)markup.

    The main idea is that standards for exchanging information are defined and it no really has to live in the browser. A browser can put that information in a certain context (by wrapping it in HTML content) and give it some style (CSS for example)

    Flex would be able to access the same API and display the information in its on way. In fact; any application should be able to do that.

    My vision of Web 2.0 is that for example there is a standard defined for supermarkets and I can consume services that allow me to bring me my food at the door; or a pizza-delivery webserice!

    Imagine the web as a non-normalized database; only a human can really tell what the content is. (a relatively very simple AI that puts some context in the web is a searchengine). Web 2.0 should basically allow computers or applications what the information you are accessing exactly is.
    Imagine if every club published a feed that would allow me to check out whats happining in the weekend; then soon there would another service that grabs all those feeds and puts it in a bigger context. I could easily make an application that consumes that information and displays it in a nice interface (yet, put it in a new context)

    So whats Web 2.0 for me? Basically the vision of the Semantic Web. Funny thing is, it only became so popular when somebody put the label ‘Web 2.0’ on it. That might be the root of the overhyping.

    I’m pretty sure we have reached the state of ‘Web 2.0’ in 10 years or so, but it will probably have a different name again. The current name might not be suitable anymore because of the global confusement about the subject thats right now going on ;)

    To me its the web developers paradise. To my personal experience RSS, trackbacks and all the other stuff thats happening right now has made the web a lot more enjoyable. But I guess the point where that stuff really is mainstream is when the acronyms are gone, and consumers don’t see it anymore; they will use it without knowing about whats below the surface.

    The W3c has probably set this fire, but right now it seems as its so slow to keep up. (it seems like a very bureaucratic orginisation right now). Because of this there are a lot of standards in the wild and people are reinventing wheels or missing the point (my vision about Atom)

    I’m not the kind of guy thats pushing people on using XHTML 1.0 strict. I use it myself, but thats because i find it to be easier to develop in. The best reason for pushing on standards on the web is interopability. If a HTML document is valid XSLT, it means other people can parse it using an XML parser or transform it with XSLT. I don’t think its needed to use XHTML 1.0; because I think its more of an endpoint to an application than a service which has to be interpreted by another application (it is for browsers, but I think they they do a very decent job).

    However, a good example of using standards is a must is RSS. If somebody would want to publish a sitefeed of latest posts in a self-defined document, well.. that would just be stupid.

  14. No worries mate; I haven’t figured out how to kill trackback spam yet, so they are turned off till I figure that out. I appreciate the time it took you to write that comment and for posting it here.

  15. One last note:

    This is my vision, obviously not everyone thinks the same about it. I just realized almost everyone uses the name to describe rich web interfaces, so since everybody uses that definition, maybe thats really what it is (or has become)

    I did a google, and I found a pretty interesting post on the subject on oreillynet.com


  16. Alls I know is that I want my sh!t on my computer. My internet connection is unreliable at best. Thank you Time Warner Cable, I’m glad my 50 dollars a month goes to something. Imagine not being able to run Word because my internet is down! Wow. Imagine not being able to access something because I was offline. Forget about that, junk. I like actual applications that live on my local storage. In fact, I have fond memories for pre-internet software that not only lived on my local machine, but came to me in a box, and almost NEVER needed patches. Deploying everything remotely just seems like an excuse for me to have no control over anything.

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