Friday, March 24, 2006

Web 2.0 is here. Get on board.

I live part time on the internet. Its part of my job. It's invaluable to my personal business. It's also something I do for fun. Like many people my age, it has become a natural part of my day, and is the first tool I reach for if I am in need of information. I know I can go and find what I need. Therefore, it serves me well to be knowledgeable about the landscape of my part time home.

Lately, the internet has been changing. Have you noticed? Us geeks call this shift Web 2.0 and it will eventually change how even you use the internet. In a nutshell, the difference between what many of you know as the internet and what is being called Web 2.0 is the method of utility; that is, how do you use this tool. The days of "surfing" random pages in search of a valuable nugget may be nearly over.

As I previously stated, most of us are used to going to the web to "find" what we are looking for, like a super high-tech yellow pages/newspaper hybrid. Just let your fingers do the walking. But all that is about to change. What if you could have the internet itself "serve up" the things you are interested in?

One new tool to become familiar with is called the RSS feed. RSS simply means Really Simple Syndication. Have you seen this icon o web pages you frequent? Or something like this? These icons represent a "feed" and if you use an "aggrigator", these links will send you any updated content from the web pages you visit most, all collected into one handy window. No longer do you need to visit every website every day. Get your news, weather, comics, stocks, even this blog, whatever, fed to you automatically, without wasting time sifting through all of the "stuff" that you couldn't care less about. Its the news you choose. Here is an excellent description for the non-technical.

But RSS is just the tip of the iceberg. Another thing that is happening in 2.0 is the "cross-pollination" of web content. Web 2.0 sites are literally sharing data/content between each other to vastly increase the utility of all such sites. This may seem a bit confusing, but Wikipedia (an excellent 2.0 site) gives a very nice definition. "Web 2.0 generally refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that let people collaborate, and share information online. In contrast to the first generation, Web 2.0 gives users an experience closer to desktop applications than the traditional static Web pages."

Although I don't currently have the energy (I have a cold and don't care that much) to go any deeper into the "meaning" of Web 2.0, I want to list a few of my favorite 2.0 sites that I use. Jump in, muck around, see what works for you. I'll bet you'll be surprised.

Myspace - Find out who your friends are. If the internet were a city, this would be the club. Express yourself. But don't do anything you wouldn't want to talk about at work on Monday. - I like Pink Floyd & Rush. Who else should I listen to. Well, if I tell what I like, it will create an online radio station that is tailored to my taste. But wait, there's more. will play for me songs that other people like (if they have similar tastes as me.) Could there be more? Yes. can even monitor what I mp3's play on my computer (secure from big brothers prying eyes), and suggest new music for me.

Platial - Map your life. Share your experiences. Or just let others know where to find the best Sushi in town. This is Web 2.0. Do what you like. - What about your favorites/bookmarks? Wanna share them or see what others have found? Try For those less technically minded, try Furl.

Flickr - What about your photos? Wanna share them or see photos from other websters? Then Flickr is for you.

I could go on, and it would start to seem like just a big list of cool sites. But here is the kicker. Most of these sites can be used together in unique and useful ways. Just look around my sites and you will see how this can be done. Well, that's it for today. I'm all out of steam.

Oh yeah. One more thing. Gmail. If it's not gmail, it's not e-mail.

I'm out.