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RIA & Ajax: Article

Web 3.0 - The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum

When the phrase Web 2.0 came out a number of people were sceptical about what it actually means

When the phrase Web 2.0 came out a number of people were sceptical about what it actually means. Being objective, it’s a collection of disparate technologies that make web sites more usable. Everyone wants their user interfaces to look and work better, and most of web developers’ energy over the last decade has been spent focusing on the former. It seems that recently however they’ve decided that it’d be nice to make them actually more usable. 

The page based latency of the web’s POST -> get next page -> go back and have to remember state was always one of its worst points and basically a legacy of the fact the browser and HTML were designed for traversing a set of static HTML documents, not a faked out set of dynamic documents masquerading as a GUI application.  AJAX fixed this by doing clever tricks with JavaScript so the browser can stay on the same page and asynchronously call the server, which combined with script that then peeks and pokes the browser’s DOM with the XML response can be taught to perform some pretty clever looking tricks. What are you going to do with this hack though?  You need a way to make money and hype around it, so like music trends that know how to play on teenage hysteria and immaturity when following trends your new wave phenomenon needs a name. It’s not enough to call it “A few clever lines of JavaScript and various other unrelated technologies that make browsers more appealing”.  You’re not going to get a movement behind you with powerpanels, advisory boards, conferences, working groups, and so forth. For that you need a name, an identity, something that makes people follow you.

This is about the time that someone decided while the fad was AJAX the trend was Web 2.0. Why not? Any fule knows that software comes in releases and 2.0 is better than 1.0. Version 1.0 is buggy, you’re in the late beta testing phase of the coders who were forced to ship by the product group who got tired of slipping dates and losing market share to the competition. Consultants now can put “Web 2.0 expert” on their business card and tell companies that the problems with their J2EE apps are because they’re still using Web 1.0. “Aha” thinks the IT manager.  I remember when we were on version n.0 of something.  It may have been an operating system release, a software product, it doesn’t really matter what.  Their problems then were fixed by installing n+1.0. The syllogism is clear – if you buy the consultingware surrounding it and write more checks you’re going to be on 2.0. Phew – now it all makes sense.

What about the guys like Adobe Flex and Laszlo who already make web sites cool? They want to be invited to the party too, so it’s just a question of using some whiteout on presentation foils and pavilion booth posters to put the words “Web 2.0” on them. Actually I really like both Flex and Laszlo and their technology is solid, I’m just using them as examples who have been forced to follow the trend to remain, well, trendy.

Now it gets worse. I was using Google Suggest this morning, a very cool web site that lets you type into the text box and see in a little drop down the number of page hits that Google have indexed on their servers.  For example, if you type in the words “Java is cool” you get about 7,000,000 results. The search “Microsoft is cool” yields zero.  I like this site. However I typed in “Web 3.0” and it comes up with 27,800,000 results, including one on “Web 3.0 conference” !!!!. What’s all that about ? 

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

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Most Recent Comments
Ken Adams 05/25/06 08:49:29 PM EDT

Here's a rumor: A company in Ireland received a threatening letter from O'Reilly's lawyers because the company in question is organizing a "Web 2.0" event. So O'Reilly is trying to patent the name?

It was all clear that Web 2.0 was nothing more than a marketing tool to satisfy the stereotype manager. And O'Reilly's move proves that... There's nothing there for technical people! Developers use AJAX, they don't do anything with Watchimacallit 2.0. Ridiculous!

SYS-CON Australia News Desk 05/24/06 08:33:00 AM EDT

When the phrase Web 2.0 came out a number of people were sceptical about what it actually means. Being objective, it's a collection of disparate technologies that make web sites more usable. Everyone wants their user interfaces to look and work better, and most of web developers' energy over the last decade has been spent focusing on the former. It seems that recently however they've decided that it'd be nice to make them actually more usable.

SYS-CON India News Desk 05/24/06 08:10:40 AM EDT

When the phrase Web 2.0 came out a number of people were sceptical about what it actually means. Being objective, it's a collection of disparate technologies that make web sites more usable. Everyone wants their user interfaces to look and work better, and most of web developers' energy over the last decade has been spent focusing on the former. It seems that recently however they've decided that it'd be nice to make them actually more usable.

JDJ News Desk 05/23/06 09:00:54 PM EDT

When the phrase web 2.0 came out a number of people were sceptical about what it actually means. Being objective, it's a collection of disparate technologies that make web sites more usable. Everyone wants their user interfaces to look and work better, and most of web developers' energy over the last decade has been spent focusing on the former. It seems that recently however they've decided that it'd be nice to make them actually more usable.