Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Web 2.0: The Power Behind the Hype

The UI possibilities with Web 2.0 ...

"Unwittingly, Paul Rademacher made history by fooling around in his free time. In an act reminiscent of early Reese's candy commercials, Paul married the data from Craigslist.com's real estate listings with Google Maps to create an interactive housing viewer. What makes this story real interesting is that this little application has nothing to do with Paul’s real job -- a software engineer for animation company DreamWorks. He just whipped this little application up as a hobby.

Meanwhile, in another part of the cyberworld, Jon Udell, a writer for InfoWorld, has been playing with bookmarklets to provide an interface between books listed on Amazon and whether they are available in his local public library. With a minimum of effort, Jon has created a connection between two data repositories that were never originally intended to work together.

The speed and ease at which these new applications were built is what is getting us very excited about the potential of the Web 2.0 world. Evocative of Dr. Frankenstein building a monster in his attic laboratory using body pieces he found lying around his neighborhood, people with a little skill can create new applications using common elements found lying around the Web in almost no time at all. As the skill requirements for building these applications are decreasing, we think this opens a whole new world of possibilities.

Web 2.0 isn't a 'thing', but a collection of approaches, which are all converging on the development world at a rapid pace. These approaches, including APIs, RSS, Folksonomies, and Social Networking, suddenly give application developers a new way to approach hard problems with surprisingly effective results.
The Power of APIs

One tool that is making this all possible is the increasing availability of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The Google Maps API allows anybody the power to overlay any data onto any place Google Maps can show. People are overlaying crime data, displaying contagious virus reports, and creating interfaces to allow people to track their daily walks.

Because the Google Maps API provides a rich interface, developers of these new applications don't have to dedicate resources to building a mapping system and populating it with geographic data. That's all provided already. Instead, the developers can focus on their data source and how they want to overlay it."    (Continued via UIE)    [Usability Resources]

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