Just as the television impacted the generations before ours, the Internet and the Web are exerting a tremendous influence on our everyday lives. The first real “tech boom” was followed by the Internet explosion — better known as the “dot-com bubble” — in the late 1990s. Much of the population does not realize, however, that we are not only in the middle of the next Internet revolution, but are also on the brink of the next generation in computing technology.
Although it is not actually the second Internet revolution, the current restructuring of content on the Internet — the World Wide Web — is labeled “Web 2.0” by the media, a term coined by publisher Tim O’Reilly. The underlying principle behind Web 2.0 is user generated/filtered content.
Some good examples of Web 2.0 sites include MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Flickr, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Craigslist, so on and so forth. In contrast to last-generation websites that posted static content, these Web 2.0 sites are user-driven, and thus bad content is weeded out. Time magazine did something unprecedented for its “Person(s) of the Year” issue — it named the entire population Persons of the Year, with the article mainly focused on Web 2.0.
The most interesting thing about this new Internet revolution is not just how it is affecting content on the Web, but how it is impacting the entire Web community. The newspaper and magazine industry provides a good example. Now that news stories and articles are being posted on the Internet literally as an event happens, print newspapers and magazines cannot possibly keep up with the bleeding edge. Even though I am still a fan of print media and reading articles on paper, why would I want to read news that isn’t really news anymore?
Radio and television content is along those same lines. Radio content has been moving to the Internet in the form of podcasts, and now television media is following suit. With convergence technologies such as TiVo, Slingbox and Apple TV, television content can be purchased or downloaded online and streamed (or synced) to your television set. Even beyond the web, the Internet also houses other Web 2.0 technologies, such as peer-to-peer file sharing systems like BitTorrent, LimeWire and DC++. Because of these technologies, we can see how the modern generation is coming together like never before.
Looking beyond the contents of the Internet, emerging technologies that are being associated with Web 2.0 – such as RSS, XHTML, CSS, XML and AJAX – have given us a glimpse of what is to come in the future of computing technology. If you look at certain modern websites like Google, with its Maps, Gmail, Docs and Spreadsheets, etc., you notice that the pages never really need to be refreshed. Instead, changes happen instantly, almost like a desktop application. In the future, computers will be constantly connected to the Internet and the operating system, as well as all of the applications, will be able to be accessed online thanks to this new technology. There are several examples of this happening today. Just check out the Docs and Spreadsheets service from Google; it is basically Microsoft Excel and Word online. In addition, Adobe has just announced that a free version of Photoshop will be available for use online. These trends foreshadow a computing platform that is entirely online and thus collaboration will be redefined. While this might make people even lazier than before, it will progress technology and improve our daily lives.