Monday :: Sep 4, 2006

Web 2.0


by paradox

As avid members of the world wide web community I think this term and concept will be interesting to many here. Coined by O’Reilly Media in 2004, “Web 2.0” has morphed into a general concept as the “new wave” of implementing web software, both in the technical and sociological sense. The Left Coaster and The Daily Kos are 2.0, by the way, and I’m positive a greater understanding and discussion of 2.0 holds sizzling potential in the power of what we do and attempt.

In no particular order, starting with technical software, I’m going to list what I see as “2.0.” It will be a greatly simplified, incomplete, extremely small slice of perception, and in no way do I mean to imply in any sense that this puny attempt be perceived as an authoritative standard. 2.0 means I get corrected and elaborated upon in the comments, something I’m used to and grateful for.

CSS Positioning. Acronym for the instructional formatting and structure part of a web page, Cascading Style Sheet positioning (“css poz”) finally fixes a huge whole in how web pages are created: formerly there was no way to position elements like images or any basic part of a web page except with a hack using table forms meant for simple table data.

Now we can finally escape the hack, except unfortunately the browser implementations on how to precisely interpret css instructions (standards) are wildly different, at this point in time far more different than table interpretation. Css poz is difficult and rife with hacks itself, but it’s potential with JavaScript and absurdly light file load make it technically irresistible, it’s the only way to go.

XHTML. This is simply the new standard for HTML, better standards, encoding formats, and enormously greater ability to interact with databases.

AJAX. Asynchronous JavaScript and XML means the web file one is currently in can be updated and interact with the server without refreshing the entire file. Combine it with css and xml (“custom” html that be precisely fit for what you’re formatting) and in some cases it can be a fascinating and extremely valuable implementation, such as Google mail and maps, banking, and Daily Kos comments.

In many other instances I see web files performing back-flipping stupid web tricks with ajax, something that has always plagued the visual presentation of the web. Flash animation can now be programmed with actionscript, and after layering ajax over that one can instantly get a stock price for any day of the year just on mouseover at Google business. So?

RSS. Rss is a thermonuclear web event just in the fission stage, the shock wave from rss will be with us a decade from now. Really Simple Syndication is just that, an absurdly simple way for a publisher (anyone who authors a web file, it does not matter how) to distribute ay kind of content. Simply set up a file with extremely basic rules about everything you publish and put it on your server. If an end user wants it their rss reader signs up for it and checks for new content every hour, and if it’s there presents it to the end user upon their specs.

Rss might be the New Radio, it’s taken universities by storm, it’s the TiVo of the web, it vastly increases reading productivity (if desired)…there are simply vast implications to everyone having the ability to syndicate their content that are really going to shake things up in huge swathes of society.

Blogging is 2.0, something that seems wryly quaint to 1.0 fossils like myself. Its legacy of self-publishing is still there, but to fit 2.0 blogging is now seen as a community enterprise of authorship and feedback content, created to utilize value, not to make money. [It is possible, though, to siphon dough on side effects of simply a large community, like advertising.]

Community 2.0 has blasted onto the scene with MySpace, of course, something I have mixed feelings about. The formatting is horrifyingly ugly and endlessly replicated, but massive interaction through the web can only be a good thing. Flikr is community data-base driven content management, as is of course the Wiki.

Part of the “community” aspect of 2.0 is the ability of the end user, us, to provide content, and YouTube has arrived in a hurricane when they married a flash player to community software and plenty of storage space for videos. Sometimes Eschaton and FiredogLake look like YouTube lists, self-created and distributed video is another thermonuclear event in the fission stage.

Just as video community can take on entrenched media industries, so can political community “blogging.” What I take away most from thinking about 2.0 is the vast potential for change just over the horizon and already beginning to be felt. Don’t give up on reading the blogs, keep on donating even in very small amounts (I have to start doing that, I’ve been down and donating nothing this season), and keep on delivering content to the communities one belongs to with passion.

Like Howard says, we have the power, and 2.0 is about to vastly increase it. Be afraid, DC. Be very afraid.

paradox :: 8:28 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!