Four big technology challenges in a Web 2.0 world

Web 2.0 created a REAL change in how we use information

A lot of people call Web 2.0 an empty buzzword (there are some Buzzword Bingo apps out there that play on this. However, the product change that came with Web 2.0 drove real changes in how people use information.

To fully understand this, it makes sense to explain what I mean by Web 2.0. To do this I am going to repeat the explanation I give when asked what Web 2.0 is (those of you who read my posting on Social Collaboration can skip this section with my apologies)

Web 1.0 let organizations publish information that could be accessed easily by all of us when we needed it, at our convenience. This changed entirely how we read the news, looked up movie times and checked stock quotes or the weather. The problem with Web 1.0 was that it was biased towards making it easy for large organizations to share information. CNN could easily setup a web site to share news and opinion. However, if I wanted to share my information with many other people in this fashion, I had to setup my own web site, publish content, figure out how to control access to it, etc. This was too hard for the everyday person (who had non-technology things to worry about in his or her life).

Web 2.0 changed this by making it easy to share my views and information–and to control how I share it. Now I can use facebook to share my vacation pictures with my friends (but limit my contact information to my professional colleagues). I do not have to build a web site, administer it, share the URL with my friends and get them to bookmark and visit it. Instead, I can rely on the fact they will visit facebook as part of their normal life and see my updates there (the network effect). It makes it much easier for me.

Enterprise 2.0 and Government 2.0 do the same — but directly in support of the missions of public and private enterprises. They let stakeholders share information and views regarding how industry and government should work (instead of simply proclaiming, “I feel blue today.”) I think of this as Web 2.0 with a purpose of creating Measurable Enterprise Value (i.e., demonstrable business value or public benefit)

This has created new technology challenges

Web 2.0 effectively shifted the direction in how we need to manage creation, access, update, sharing and archive of information. It moved from a hub model to a true network model:

web1020

This shift is not trivial. It has created new challenges across a broad range of technology areas:

  1. Scaling dynamic data: In the Web 1.0 world we used two different approaches to scaling static vs. dynamic data. These approaches do not work in a world where data can be viewed by everyone can come from everywhere
  2. Moderating user-generated content: In the Web 1.0 world, user-generated data were viewed by relative small populations. In a Web 2.0 world, they can be viewed by everyone. This presents significant moderation challenges and new balances between openness, speed of publishing, control and safety
  3. Intellectual property management: Who owns the data on a social network? Web 2.0 stresses every aspect of intellectual property challenges—from ownership and revenue attribution to control and privacy
  4. Cross-platform media management: We live in a multimedia world. That means you have to manage both upload and download of media across hundreds of platforms (browser and operating system combinations). Anyone who has ever worked with CODECs can appreciate how difficult this is

Addressing these using elegant, high-scale, cost-efficient approaches is not trivial prospect. However it as exciting and stimulating as the challenges I learned when helping to build out the Web 1.0 world). Over my next few posts, I will blog about how I have tackled each of these and what I have learned along the way.