Tags: general thoughts
As usual my buddy Luke does all the hard work, so I can use his stuff for further commentary. Thanx!
There are some themes that help peple to define Web 2.0 and what still remains unanswered is my favorite question, “now what”? This is especially interesting from the IxD perspective. So I have a few questions to help spur the conversation along.
Just like the conversation for AJAX it seems that we keep repeating the same names of companies doing this or enabling this. Slightly different names, but you get the gist: Flickr, Technorati, Amazon, Google, del.icio.us, etc. This to me does not yet speak of a movement. For example blogging became a movement not with the advent of RSS or even feedreaders, but when blogging became too easy to do to ignore. (This will be part of my questions and thoughts below.)
But what is Web 2.0. Simply from what I can summize from “the experts out there” is about enablement. Companies lik Google & Amazon with treasure chests of data making that data publicly availble. But wait, not just data. I mean XUL versions of Amazon have been around for years already. But what we are talking about are tools/services that these corps provide (free of charge) through Application Program Interfaces (APIs) such as Web Services, and THEN stacked on top of each other with other data and tool sources. Mapping technology on top of real estate information is a great example explored by people who search craigslist but lay out the information on top of Google Maps–HousingMaps.com.
The other key component here is that the information sources are open and accessible in formats that allow for easy manipulatin and that the information is free (as long as it is used under “fair use”). RSS (and atom) allow for structured publishing of information and blog software allows for its easy creation so there is more information that ever before.
This statement by Rashmi Sinha about Web 2.0 sums up the challenge and the opportunity quite concisely, “… data, interface and metadata no longer go hand in hand.” Everyone else is just talking about this issue, but Rashmi got right to the core.
When you think about this a whole messload of questions comes to mind:
1. Is presentation now an irrelevant part of information design? Since anyone can grab your content w/o its presentatin layer and then repurpose it at whim, identity becomes harder to control.
Here’s an example of this. I use Usernomic’s Usability in the News site. This is a manually aggregated site that puts up blog postings relevant to the usability community. Great! right? It is great. I use it every day. But I have to say that my appreciation for specific writers goes down and all I’m left with is a feeling of the content. Now there are ways to increase legitimacy through new social networking “tagging” modules, but even then, as a possible publisher, I do not gain any equity from aggregation if no one looks at the author anymore. The author and his brand equity take a side step to the content alone.
I realize this is a simplification and there is a lot more to this argument, but I am questioning this purist separatist view that I see in the blog/RSS community.
2. While many sophisticated users definitely see an advantage to ultimate control over how they receive content, is this level of individualization, adding too much complexity if it is to be managed by the end-user?
To me this question is the biggest opportunity. When one looks at the Internet it has been an ebb and flow against the tide of complexity. HTML first made it possible for anyone to publish, then cgi and scripting + app servers made it difficult again, but then open-source and blogware made it easy again. Now we have added a new layer of complexity that few can take advantage of.
Don’t get me wrong, this is all awesome! but I think it is an ebb and we need to be thinking about more flow.
3. What is the new role for interaction design and IA here? The role to me is ever more crucial as data needs to be better packaged and prepared so it can be converted into information by those who don’t own the information but rather by those who consume it. So that’s for the IA, but what about the IxD? The IxD needs to start thinking now of the tools and processes that can best take advantage of these systems. We are also the ones who will prepare API architectures.
Someone mentioned as part of this global discussion, that Web 2.0 is the age of participation. That isn’t exactly how it comes to me. For me it is the age of consumption again. Blogging is about participation, so is folksonomy, and while these two elements contribute to Web 2.0, it is really allowing people to consume other’s information through mediated and aggregated tools and data sources. More to consume that is more relevant.