Ever feel like there’s been too many inflection points in the recent history of the web? Like there’s something huge brewing, but you’re not sure what it is? I sure do. While on a daily basis, it might seem like the web is fairly static, there’s been a ton of change over the past 18 months. For example:
- Broadband adoption is accelerating.
- Personal internet client devices are now run of the mill. Everyone has them (or will, soon). And people are using them in non-trivial ways.
- RSS hit the bigtime. There are millions of RSS-enabled websites and whole new classes of applications are emerging that leverage RSS feeds.
- Web-based APIs are springing up. Google and Amazon have the most mindshare here. But there are lots more, and even more in the pipeline (at a recent event, an MSDN representative said that Microsoft is working on an MSDN web-services API. I think that’s exciting). What’s more, each API is leading to lots of individual applications.
- Internet clients are becoming commonplace. As Tim O’Reilly has pointed out, applications like iTunes are internet applications, running on the internet operating system.
None of these bullet-points are news to anyone reading The O’Reilly Network. But when you put them all together, and you look at the content that’s on the web, and the way we access it, and how often we access it, it’s amazing how many things are changing, and how different the web is, from a year ago.
The hard question is: where, if anywhere, does all this all lead?
Does anyone have a grasp on some piece of the big picture?
Since the Internet bubble burst in 2000, always-on consumer broadband hit critical mass and the mobile Internet got going in earnest. As online usage habits in South Korea have repeatedly shown, pervasiveness of connectivity matters and matters non-linearly. The US, while well behind the last-mile broadband deployment curve, has hit sufficient critical mass to foster significant new innovation in Internet applications: social network software, the social networks themselves, and most significantly, weblogging. All these applications, plus ones we will see within a couple years but can not yet predict, are predicated on hyperlink schemes that are persistent, metadata rich, and characterize geometrically denser link meshes than anything assembled before 2002. These new Internet applications are far more valuable (Reed.com), both in terms of economics and utility, than the prior generation of Internet applications which were architected when connectivity was primarily intermittent. Beyond the applications themselves, a whole new generation of utilities, including transaction engines, directories, and search engines, are necessary to rationalize the web for users.
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you might want to stop by and hear what he has to say.
What do you think Scott should be talking about?