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Lightweight Models and Cost –Effective Scalability

Web 2.0 applications have developed along way since traditional standard web applications in that many organizations are realizing how a simple startup company in a garage can be one of the most successful companies due to its small employee size, this relates to the theory of Lighteight models and cost effective scalability which talks about “doing more with less” instead of getting big fast.

You start small and stay small thereby keeping staff costs to a minimum while ensuring you have enough employee’s to get the work done, it’s an interesting concept which has been around for quite along time and has been often used in other industry s however applying it to Web 2.0 applications is clearly the best choice as web 2.0 applications require very little startup costs and can be developed quite fast.

An example of an application using lightweight models and cost effective scalability would have to be Digg.

Digg is a pretty simple idea which allows you to digg up other stories which can be viewed by everyone, the model they have used in doing this is very user driven which harnessing the collective intelligence as the users provide the content and vote up or down on an article.

It also has a interesting revenue scheme, which is based on build the community, aka get alot of users and the ads will come, obviously as the site became more popular more companies decided to publish ad’s on the site increasing the revenue, when you think about it, Digg only really provided the framework for the users to publish content and rate the content which in turn increased the popularity of the site which helped draw more ad’s to the site.

This amazing web 2.0 application started out in 2004 with $2000, a single hosted server for $99 a month, which increased to 90 servers in 2006 and over 100 million page views everyday, at this time they only had 15 employees in the company, which is an excellent example doing more with less, but with saying that there is always risk involved with this, which reminds me of a quote from the movie Anti Trust.

” Gary Winston once said that any teenager in a garage could put him out of business. Is that what you’ve done?”

This quote directly refers to lightweight models as any one could simply develop a web 2.0 application as there is basically no capital required only the skills to develop.

References:

Tim  Oreilly
Startup Review

Leveraging the Long Tail

Leveraging the long tail is a web 2.0 pattern described  by Tim O’Rily which refers to selling a large number of  less popular items in small quantities to consumers who are apart of a specialized niche, this allows them to have the majority of the market as there is few competitors, therefore the need to sell as frequently is not as important.

With the emerge of Web 2.0 applications, applying the theory of leveraging the long tail to become successful has become alot simpler. many web based companies such as amazon are at the top of their market, such as Amazon, Ebay, these companies are within the “head” the top of the market, however many businesses on the internet target a niche market and successful leverage the long tail, obviously if you target a niche market you will have less competition which will allow you to become more well known in your market.

Quickflix should be a great example to represent the pattern of “Leveraging the Long Tail”. It provides a large enough availability of choice for consumers. Users can not only rent popular movies, but also can find “Long Tail” movies that are rarely found in the video stores. Quickflix also provides an alphabetical searching way for users to search the movie specifically. In addition, by using the rental method, users can find some movies by themselves. It clearly reduces the cost and increase users satisfaction.

In summary, the concept of long tail is an important milestone in Internet development. Internet technology can solve many of the traditional constraints of economics. As a consequence, it provides a wider range of ideas for the businesses. The long tail is a very significant concept that can guide a company to have a tactical way of thinking. Therefore, how to use this concept to gain profit is the most critical key.

References:

O’Reilly, Tim. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software.
Wikipedia. 2010. Long Tail.

Perpetual Beta

Software updates have long been known for their annoyance, ranging from a single user perspective to a systems administrator perspective, the question is, how do you manage the updates of a large organization and all the software packages that they use.

Simply you cannot, now in saying this, there are applications out there that provide the ability to automate the installation of updates such as WSUS, which is a great tool but this only provides support for Microsoft applications and operating systems with limited support for 3rd party updates, the issue this causes is what if you need to rollback from an update for over 200 computers, WSUS does not have this ability nor does any other Microsoft technology, you would have to re image the machines.

The reason i am talking about this is due to the nature of web applications which use perpetual beta, which in case you are unaware, is a software development stage where the product is always in beta meaning it is always being updated and extended, unlike current desktop applications such as Microsoft Office which is shipped in a box with a dvd as a finished product, once installed you then find there are a mountain of updates/patches which need to be downloaded and installed in order to get the extended functionality.

whereas with a web application such as Zen.do it is always in beta and hosted on the server side which means any changes which are made to the application affect all users at the same time without their knowledge, for this reason alone, it could be successfully argued that certain web applications could replace traditional desktop applications such as Office, for their ease of patch management.

Zen.do is a web application developed by students to provide a way to better learn by using flashcards, obviously this application is still within beta phase and will continue to be so during its lifecycle as with many web applications harnessing the power of perpetual beta.

it’s an interesting application which allows you to easily create flash cards while creating notes during your normal lecture, it’ll be interesting to see the additional features that this application will have during its life cycle.

References:

Zen.do

Perpetual beta

Perpetual beta wiki

Software No Longer Bound to a Single Device

Software has made significant advancements within the last decade with the level of useability that it provides and its platform acceptance, to further expand of it’s useability and platform independence, software has taken on a new form which has allowed the software to be run on multiple platforms, ranging from different desktop operating systems  such as windows,Linux,osx to mobile operating systems such as Android, Windows Mobile and OSX. This new form is known as Web Applications, An Example of this would be PhotoBucket which as mentioned is an web based application which has available on multiple different devices/platforms.

PhotoBucket is a free image hosting application which allows you to upload photos/videos and create albums and share them with your friends by either sending them the link or by using the the added Facebook functionality to post the pictures to Facebook. This allows you to access your photos from any computer in the world as long as it has an internet connection or better yet from a mobile device such as an iPhone or android based phone which further enhances the application as you are able to access it from multiple devices, while giving the user the ability to access the resources they want instantly (in this case their photos) from anywhere in the world this does also raise an important question.

By developing applications that provide instant gratification which are primary aimed at the younger generation, i cant help but think that this will have negative effects on the overall general behavior of the younger generation as they will expect everything to be as fast as web applications such as facebook,twitter and of course Photobucket.

PhotoBucket is just one application among a long list of web applications which can be run on multiple different devices, it is important to realize the significances of this change in culture with respect to these applications and how more web applications are being developed then desktop applications.

References: Image1

The Cloud Experience

The Web has Certainly developed over the years from it’s early stages of static HTML pages which were painful to update and expand on, progressing into newer technologies which allowed server side code to-do most of the processing.

The Web is currently at a point where several questions are being raised about traditional desktop applications such as Microsoft Office versus free web applications such as Google Documents, as web applications are at a point where they are able to offer the user a rich user experience comparable to that of traditional desktop applications, due the a number of technologies such as AJAX, Java, Flash among several others, this movement is described by Tim O’Reilly as the Rich User Experience.

Prezi is an amazing web application which is based off Java that allows you to create a presentation much like you would do in PowerPoint, Prezi uses the technology behind java to deliver a rich user experience to its audience base while providing a suitable alternative to desktop solutions, a number of key differences that shows the power of this web application versus a traditional desktop application are listed below:

  1. Can Create/Access presentations anywhere with an internet connection
  2. Multi Platform
  3. Allows real time Multi edit user.
  4. No client Application Required
  5. Provides a richer user base experience compared to Traditional applications i.e Microsoft PowerPoint.
  6. Free

The below video showcases a simple demo of Prezi.

Prezi is a remarkable powerful application which many have seen the value in, which has been showcased on TED, it was so highly regarded that TED even invested in the product

In my opinion, this movement into highly developed media rich web applications is really just a paradigm shift in the open source community in it’s age old struggle to compete with software companies such as Microsoft.

Which prevent users from interacting with their code and requiring it’s users to purchase their software which is then generally bound to a single computer or node, this is an outdated approach which has allowed for Web applications such as Prezi to be created to combat this issue.

References:

Open Source Cloud Computing

Tim O’Relliy Web 2.0

TED Invests

Innovation in assembly

Innovation in assembly is an interesting concept which relates to how people develop unique platforms from combining several already built systems into a single platform which uses these systems to solve a key issue. These platforms are basically mashups of different services to provide another service.

Before i begin however i must point out an interesting webpage i came across in my research as it was rather  helpful in finding interesting mashups programmableweb.

While i did find many excellent examples of an innovate approach to mashups, such as AntennaSearch, which shows the location of new/old cell reception towers with the Google Maps API; i liked the simplistic nature of 2itch.

2itch is a simple mashup of Google Maps API and Google Adsense which provide a detailed map location for shops which are open 24hours. Although this platform doesnt combine many API’s i still find value in its service, as i’ve often wanted a service like this myself. For example, when studying at 10pm at night and you want to go and get some food you often have to resort to fast food options as you may not be aware of any 24hour shops in your local area.

The great thing about this service is how it harness collective intellective by allowing the data to be edited by it’s users which can add new locations to 2itch without needing to register with an account. 2itch also provides a blog which allows the community to talk about the 24hour services available to them in their area, allowing users to have a better understanding of what is going on in their local area . This application integrates Google API and Google Adsense in an innovative way to provide a practical service to its users, whilst also harnessing the collective intelligence of the community to add content to the various maps and blogs.

2itch currently only covers a few US cities at the present time. However, as it has been observed with many other web 2.0 applications, an Australian version of this application is sure to appear sometime soon, overall 2itch is a great web application that integrates its use of collective intelligence with an innovated approach to using current API’s to provide a beatification service to the general public.

 

References:

programmableweb

oreilly web2.0 report

 

StaticIce – The Data Behind It.

Following my previous post which described how web 2.0 applications such as Google, YouTube, Twitter have changed the way companies interact with data and how they value their data, i thought i’d extend on this topic to further illustrate how almost any web 2.0 application could become the next “Intel Inside”.

When thinking of what to write about for this blog post, i couldn’t help but keep coming back to a web service i use all the time called Staticice.

This webpage i believe is the very definition of a data driven service, as it provides its users with a central location to search for a particular device which you are interested in purchasing, in doing this you are able to see all the different vendors and compare prices between each one for the same product for the end result of purchasing a product for the cheapest price.

How does it do this?, well its based off some rather smart code which regularly collects data from various different sources on the internet, primary different electronic/computer stores such as Umart/MSY etc.

this data is stored in a central database which is connected directory to its web service, this allows very fast lookups for prices. I myself have tested this on many occasions to determine how long it took StaticIce to update its information in regards to product prices on particular sites such as Umart and i realized that it was very up to date.

Wait, what does this all mean? When thinking about the “next Intel Inside” i can see how StaticIce can accomplish this.

  • StaticIce uses it’s data as the primary tool to Attract its user base both consumers and businesses
  • Knowledge is Power, Data is Knowledge and this tool gives that knowledge to its users
  • StaticIce has become a platform for businesses to advertise their content on as these businesses have seen the the power this site has to generate traffic due to its data control.

In saying all of this, there are obviously many other web 2.0 application out there now that provide a similar experience but to my knowledge StaticIce was one of the first companies within Australia to provide a innovate service such as this.

 

 

Data is Power?

It has long been known that knowledge is power and that the individual or company with the most knowledge on a particular aspect will generally be the most profitable. This knowledge is often gained from raw data that is obtained from a customers user base using old style techniques.

With the advance of Web 2.0, companies have developed methods for obtaining raw data from its user base by running server side applications that heavily rely on a database which can be used in conjunction with programs that allow them to run queries against raw data in the database, which is being generated by its user base. An example of this would be Google.

Every time you  search for something in Google, that search request is added to their database and can be later used to provide you with custom advertisements related to your search patterns.

When trying to increase my own page ranking within Google, I found that Google ranked user generated content higher than static manual data. I found this interesting, as Google was putting more faith in user generated content than static content which used to be seen as a more reliable source. Wikipedia also shares the same methodology as Google in trusting user generated content. The interesting concept with Wikipedia is that while most companies aim to capture data to improve its income, Wikipedia has taken the approach of opening itself up to the public and providing back to the community. On the other hand, web applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google provide their user base with the ability to communicate and collaborate with the community for free while collecting important data about the users and popular trends in order to create targeted ads.

Is data the next Intel inside? Whilst knowledge has always given power, the companies that correctly use collected user generated content will be a success.

A Prime Example of Collective Intelligence

When i think about Collective Intelligence which is one of the core Web 2.0 patterns, the first example of this that comes to mind, is a web 2.0 application called HowCast.

This application is a clear example of an online community coming together to enrich the knowledge base of the community by empowering people to create video content to enhance the community knowledge base.

This application allows the community to create video content on any topic, while providing the ability to comment and respond to a particular video.

Much like Youtube although the main difference between HowCast and Youtube is that Howcast is developed for the sole purpose of creating video “How To’s” to increase the knowledge base of it’s users.

HowCast have also extended their reach to the mobile Platform, with an app for the Iphone an Android based mobile phones, while also integrating Facebook login to their site.

This added functionality serves a number of  functions.

  • Allowing users a easy and simple login
  • Extending their community reach with the ability to comment/share videos on Facebook.
  • Simple “Howto” video creation via mobile apps
  • Extending their community reach to everyday people who might otherwise not login to the actual website without the mobile app.

HowCast have followed a number of best practices when attempting to hardness the collective intelligence of its user base.

  • Don’t force the user to signup to simply have a look around on the site.
  • Trust the User with their contributions.
  • Simple Sign up Process – to allow the user to reach the content they are searching for as fast as possible

obviously there are many such applications out on the web that provide a similar user experience, although from personal experience i have found HowCast to be a very useful application which i use on regular basis due to its rich community base.

What are you’re thoughts on this?

References:

oreilly hardness collective intelligence

Delicious

To often i have found myself in need of a particular bookmark for a webpage, only to find that i am on a different computer that does not have the bookmark, while for me personally this is not an issue as i generally remember the URL of the webpages i need to visit.

However, for the average user this can be a major issue as a large population of the internet users do not tend to remember the URL, therefore a service that stores you’re bookmarks in a central location within one account accessible from anywhere is needed to fix this issue, Delicious  is this service. actual website here

Delicious has changed the way people bookmark in their daily lives, no longer do users have to be restricted to bookmarks on a single computer, as they now have access to their bookmarks though a simple free web account. It offers some pretty interesting features

  • Tagging of Bookmarks
  • Sharing Bookmarks between users
  • Unique bookmark Profile

although Delicious is an excellent web 2.0 tool, i personally tend to feel that this is something that would be better suited as an add-on for you’re Google account, as they already have so many great tools available to users through you’re Google account and this would just be an excellent addition.

if you’re unaware of delicious please checkout the below video!