The Come To Me Web

Tonight I attended the BayCHI event, Are You Ready for Web 2.0? The panelist were David Sifry, Technorati; Stewart Butterfield, Flickr/Yahoo!; Paul Rademacher, HousingMaps; Thomas Vander Wal, PersonalInfoCloud.com.

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:
Web 2.0 defines a newer incarnation of the World Wide Web typified by the transition from the typical website hosting HTML/XHTML pages, to a platform that provides a point of presence (sometimes known as a Web portal), from which any of the following interactions may occur: syndication, aggregation, publishing, etc.

My previous blog struggles with what to call the narrower slice of this platform that centers around rich in-page user experience vs. the old page-based model. But on to the broader topic... the Web 2.0 platform.

Here is what I heard tonight.

Stewart reminded us of Web 0.1, the days of gopher and the wonder of discovering a site. Web 1.0 moved us into browsing and consuming pages. Web 2.0 has brought about the addressability of smaller chunks or services. Meaning it or not, these became public APIs. Of course Flickr and others have formalized their APIs and allow others to create new and novel tools and services around their content. He used the quote from Tim O'Reilly, that this is an "Architecture of Participation."

Stewart also showed some of the new tools in Flickr. Things like the best photos rising to the top, a feature called interestingness. Of real interest was the concept of clustering or the ability to infer semantic meaning to a group of tags and cluster them. One example is the tag Turkey clustering around the country, the holiday and the food.

David (Technorati) showed some fascinating graphs on the blogosphere. They are tracking 15 million blogs! It has been doubling every 5.5 months over the last 30 months! There are 80,000 new blogs a day (almost one a second). And tagging is growing. Almost a third of blogs use tags with 10,000 new tags a day.

I like the phrase he used-- The attention economy.

Paul created HousingMaps.com. He called it a mashup of google and craigslist. The reference for mashup comes from remixing music by overlaying two songs with the hope that the result is somewhat pleasing. The new Web 2.0 and its open platform means mashups are possible.

Paul did a nice job with his interface for HousingMaps, but there was an interesting discussion that as some had tried to mashup his mashup the results were not so good.

But the ability to take rich services and put them together in a way the originators did not think about is an awesome power of Web 2.0.

Thomas (InfoCloud) is a fascinating guy. He has been thinking on the concept of personal information clouds that follow us around for quite some time. I especially liked his simple explanation of Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0. The former was the I GO GET web and the latter is the COME TO ME web.

The I GO GET was about reading, consuming, printing, findability, etc.

The COME TO ME is about what we have found that we like, categories, reuse of information, re-findability, and about attraction.

The attraction part is really something to contemplate. Attraction is the ability to cause that information cloud to form around me in the websphere so that I can be hooked into relevant information. It is about preserving my time so that I spend less time finding and more time using what I have attracted. Or re-finding something.

Pulling the thoughts together, Web 2.0 is the Web on Demand. Across all of the medias the move is for deep personalization of content. RSS syndication is become more approachable to the average consumer.

But most folks have not entered into the world of Web 2.0 (outside the Bay Area-- I know I just moved from Dallas and it is a smaller community that is savvy to these concepts). So the challenge to the designer is how do we make mashups, remixes, RSS subscriptions easier to use?

One answer is providing subtle invitations to the broader Web 2.0 platform of possibilities along the a line of discovery as the user moves through his normal Web 1.0 style of navigation. Inferring what the user is interested in, offering to package similar content, helping them customize their pages with content are all important parts of this experience. It will be along the path of normal consumption that most user's will dip their toe into the Web 2.0 waters and hopefully they will be hooked.

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Sr. Director, UI Engineering, PayPal. Former Netflixer, Y! Pattern Curator. UX & Engineering Leader, Author, Speaker. Early Mac game developer (1985)

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