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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tim O'Reilly Tries Defining Web 2.0 Again

Tim O'Reilly's previous attempt at defining Web 2.0 ignited a lot of debate, but it was a lengthy read. Now, he's refined it to a pithy paragraph:

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I've elsewhere called "harnessing collective intelligence.")

(Eric Schmidt has an even briefer formulation of this rule: "Don't fight the internet."


Other rules (which mostly fall out of this one) include:

  1. Don't treat software as an artifact, but as a process of engagement with your users. ("The perpetual beta")
  2. Open your data and services for re-use by others, and re-use the data and services of others whenever possible. ("Small pieces loosely joined")
  3. Don't think of applications that reside on either client or server, but build applications that reside in the space between devices. ("Software above the level of a single device")
  4. Remember that in a network environment, open APIs and standard protocols win, but this doesn't mean that the idea of competitive advantage goes away. (Clayton Christensen: "The law of conservation of attractive profits")
  5. Chief among the future sources of lock in and competitive advantage will be data, whether through increasing returns from user-generated data (eBay, Amazon reviews, audioscrobbler info in last.fm, email/IM/phone traffic data as soon as someone who owns a lot of that data figures out that's how to use it to enable social networking apps, GPS and other location data), through owning a namespace (Gracenote/CDDB, Network Solutions), or through proprietary file formats (Microsoft Office, iTunes). ("Data is the Intel Inside")


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