Tag Archives: web 2.0

Who’s ready for Web 3.0?

Just when people started to become comfortable with Web 2.0, Social Media and increasingly “Cloud” – those internet hipsters have to push the envelope further!  In true geek style, increasing a version # is the equivalent to retail’s “New & Improved” formula for laundry detergent.  For supporters it sticks immediately because it has to be better than 2.0 – right?  In IT we move fast, learn, fail and iterate – using a zero based integer reflects our progress. For others it’s just another opportunity to exploit a “buzz word” an over-used, misunderstood acronym that attempts to differentiate the cool-kids from the has-beens.

Well, the only constant in technology is change – right?  Half the battle is determining what concepts are worth your time and which are just noise.  A good CIO should be able to help decipher that for your organization.  I often say, my level of detail fluctuates between 2″ or 20,000 feet – and not much in between.  It takes a respectable amount of time to stay abreast of what seems to be a daily innovation – as somebody, somewhere has uncovered the latest must-have technology/process or technique that you simply can’t live without.  Everyone once in a while, they’re right, most often they’re not.

At Billhighway, R&D is a first class citizen.  It’s important we’re able to speak to all modern technologies, tools, resources or methodologies – we pride ourselves on continuous improvement.  Agile, Scrum & Lean are deeply embedded into our thought process and rarely is there only a single way for getting something done.  Often, the correct answer to an IT question is “it depends.”  There are simply too many variables that can impact your results, having diverse perspectives and a process that can remove emotional decision-making is often key.  And, in a way, that’s what Web 3.0 is all about – the Semantic Web.

Arguably, each of the previous web generations was transformative to business and 3.0 aims to build upon that evolution.  Web 3.0 is a smarter Web, giving users/computers/processes better ways to share information, helping to make faster, more accurate decisions (business intelligence the the 3rd power.)  This has enormous benefits for people who need to search for information, automate business processes and transactions.  Information in a Web 3.0 world will be much easier to access, because systems will do a lot of the time-consuming work that people still do today.

Ultimately, it’s about transparency – by providing incentives for reducing waste and improving accountability.  The orchestration of tools that cut years of research down to days – the holy grail of “do more with less.”  The promise of Web 3.0 suggests information will be much better linked and more efficiently utilized on an increasingly global scale.  Gone are the days of walled gardens.  Sure there will always be private and confidential data, but it will be increasingly abstracted and consumed in more meaningful ways without jeopardizing critical data – via personal data lockers where you control access to your identity, configuring who gets access to what and in what context depending upon role, intent and location.  Think of it as a deeper understanding of the relationships between people, services and objects – paving the way for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Open Energy Information (OpenEI), advancements in biotech and even improvements in customer service.

It remains to be seen, if Web 3.0 will have the fan fair of say, Web 2.0 – which even casual observers could see or feel an impact.  3.0 is about transparency whereas 2.0 fundamentally changed the landscape and has touched nearly everyone in a meaningful way.  Think I’m wrong?  Have you managed to boycott Facebook or refuse to tweet?  How about read the news on an iPhone/iPad or eReader?  Still writing checks?  It’s hard to imagine any brand that isn’t somehow trying to incorporate a social strategy – even if done poorly or lacking initial value. The “conversation” has begun and the integration of one’s online and offline life is becoming co-mingled – with or without your participation.  The pace of change is increasing, knowledge has paved the way for tools and business processes to streamline, automate and exploit what we were taught in kindergarten – SHARING.

Hindsight is 20/20, but a rare few are able to decipher the climate of the internet economy and position themselves and/or their organizations to benefit from the next wave of innovation – bring on the “real-time-web.”

*If you find this an interesting subject, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.

Waking up a sleeping giant?

Since Microsoft has moved their product cycles to ~3 years, it seems each month a new flavor of something is shipping, with supplimental tools surfacing every few weeks. I, myself have noticed a change in the past 18 months or so, really since the Google threat emerged. There seems to be a new sense of urgency within MS, more forward discussions and even some support for the open-source community!

It almost seems as though MS is softening is stance on proprietary issues, blurring the lines within the developer community to support popular trends with RIA and ruby. Looking back several years, MS seems to perform best when there is healthy competition in the mix. The most obvious threats, from my perspective remain, Google and Adobe.

Google continues to push the envelope on several fronts, most notable to the development community may be its Open Social platform. While MS has offered support to other social communities, such as Facebook, support within still seems to favor other flavors, such as php, ruby, even java using REST vs. SOAP. While thats a somewhat minor issue, MS developers are accustom to rich documentation, which FB, and others (Google, Amazon, etc.) still lack. Hence, the early adopters remain the open-source folks, those accustom to rolling their own solutions, leaving the MS devs a few laps behind.

RIA (Rich Internat Applications) has become a popular trend, possibly gaining momentum as an outcome of Web 2.0, whereas slick interfaces and ajax helped to move awareness forward. RIA is much more than that though, looking back, requires credit to shockwave, flash and maybe even dhtml? Enter Adobe. Adobe acquired Macromedia several years ago, strengthening its already dominant position in the designer community. Its latest activities surround a technology called FLEX, now in its 3rd iteration. MS and Adobe are both competing for this audience, MS with its WPF and Silverlight technologies, – both lay claim to support for the “open source” community, offering cross-platform frameworks, which require proprietary toolsets (flex builder, blend/visual studio, respectively) to truly leverage the technology.

Social Apps and RIA both offer significant, albeit unproven, opportunity. Early indication is, some form of both will power the next wave of internet applications, and all the major players are competing for the attention of developers, whom will ultimately build the killer apps of tomorrow. MS is uniquely positioned to capitalize on RIA, having a mature platform in .net, deep dev community, and an increasingly impressive offering in Silverlight 2. Things havent fully played out yet on the social side of the house, but its clear MS is ramping up resources, regionally at community events, and globally with projects such as PopFly and Moonlight (a joint venture with Novell).

Another example may be its growing support for Agile. Agile, derived heavily from the eXtreme programming (XP) camp, is another MS example of being late to the game, but coming on strong with rich toolsets, with Team Foundation Server (TFS). TFS, now in its 2nd iteration, improves collaboration among leading-edge development teams, with diverse roles, source code control and process templates. Now featuring better support for Continuous Integration (CI) and Test Driven Development (TDD) showcases MS as a player within this emerging methodology.

The last piece of the puzzle surrounds the mashup community, whom in my eyes are truly at the forefront of social apps, RIA and the elusive web desktop. In this space, the open-source guys still dominate. Attend a barCamp, unconference or user group on the coasts and you’d almost forget Microsoft (.net) and Sun (java) existed. Here, Macbook Pros and Ruby rule the landscape, and thats ok. MS, other than pioneering the OS, has arguably never been at the forefront, but instead have taken calculated risks entering markets long after demand existed – where they’ve become quite successful.

So, does the latest advancements in web technologies, combined with competitive alternatives force MS to adapt? Absolutely. Who is going to win? The development community at large, by having legitimate options to choose from when building the next big thing. Let the games begin!

Here Comes Another Takedown

Here’s a funny web 2.0 spoof, I originally saw at GSP. YouTube keeps trying to take it down, but if you haven’t seen it, take a look (before its gone again)