Archive for March, 2006

With all the speculation about Google hosting Wikipedia pages and Google Reference, the question everyone seems to be asking is ”Why Does Google Love Wikipedia?“. The Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It is maintained by the people, it is for the people to use and is of the people i.e. has no central authority governing it. Its an collaborative effort where everyone contributes.

Currently Google bots crawl the abyss of the internet, parsing and indexing information from pages. All of these pages might not be useful or its content accurate or reliable from the user perspective. On the other hand the Wikipedia is moderated and maintained by the people themselves ensuring accuracy. Although the facts on Wikipedia cannot be guaranteed to be accurate but public moderation ensures that false data will be removed eventually.

Hence Google’s interest in Wikipedia is evident from the fact that the people would themselves act as data sources. It is like every individual is a Google bot, feeding data right into the Google Indexer. Google would also gain from the fact that this data would be accurate which is not the case for the web crawler.

This is how I perceive Googles interest in Wikipedia. What are your views?

Web 2.0 : A Walled Garden?

| March 12th, 2006

What does the term ‘Web 2.0′ denote?

Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an “architecture of participation,” and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.
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Web 2.0: Walled Garden

The Web 2.0 promotes an ‘architecture of participation’ by utilizing data from multiple sources and providing its own data in a form that can be utilized by others. This is evident from the numerous API’s that are available on the web. Anyone with a unique idea can develop a mashup using one or more of such API’s.

I have always been skeptical about the sustainability of mashups. Although the API’s the mashups use confer with the idea of Web 2.0 and promote openess and free flow of data, they are restricted in a way. For example, the search API released by Google restricts searches to thousand queries per day. Alexa for instance charges for its API usage. The question this raises is that ‘Is the Web 2.0 as open as we thought?’, as free as in beer.

In the mashup ecosystem the mashups can be thought of as resellers. The data providers are in control cause if they intend to discontinue sharing data or for some reason change their API, the dependant mashup will be in a fix. They can even block service to mashups they think are inappropriate.

This leads us to rethink: Is the Web 2.0 just another walled garden?

No Bar @ BarCamp Delhi

| March 8th, 2006

BarCamp Delhi was quite an experience. I had never been to any meet as such…a first timer at BarCamp. I had heard/read a lot about the BarCamps held at US and was very much excited about its first foray into Asia especially India. BarCamp has quite a history about how it started and its connections with FooCamp. No moderation , no restrictions whatsoever was unique to BarCamp. The attendees ranged from entrepreneurs, CEOs to developers and even students. Everyone shared a single platform and participated in some way or the other. Every session consisted of a presentation follwed by an open discussion allowing free flow of ideas.

The theme “Next Generation Internet: Web 2.0, mobile computing, and other cool stuff” was quite apt wrt the current scenario of the web.

A quick summary of the sessions I attended:

  • Agile Web Development with Ruby on Rails by Manik Juneja: Quite an eye-opener for web developers giving them an insight of how powerful Ruby on Rails is.
  • Rich Internet Applications and Flex by Ramanarayanan K and Manish Jethani: An introduction to Macromedia RIA’s was given followed by a live demostartion by Manish where he built a YouTube player using Flex. Flex proved to be quite promising due to its ease and platform independence.
  • Making AJAX applications faster by Jonathan Boutelle: IMHO one of the most impressive presentations. Jonathan introduced us to the concepts of prefetching/preloading in terms of making AJAX applications faster. He pointed out that the decision of the amount of data to prefetch was purely heuristic and application specific.
  • Can we trust next generation web applications by Kapil Bhatia: Kapil brought out some subtle points regarding trust in the current web scenario. This led to open discussions about reliability of some trusted web applications and whether we could trust them with our data. We also discussed about the sustainability of mash-ups coming to the conclusion that in the mashup ecosystem the data owner is the boss.
  • How Bloggers Make Money by Amit Agarwal ‘ProBlogger’: Quick tips by a professional blogger from Agra on how to monetize your blogs and tyurn it into a cash cow. He compared various monetizing tools like Google AdSense, Chitika and shared his experiences regarding the same. He let out the tricks for search engine optimization of blog posts.
  • Blogging Network – None of us are as smart as all of us by Ajay Sanghani: Ajay, from ITVIDYA.com, introduced us to his blogging network ITVIDYA. He brought across a very valid point that wealth earned through blogs not only consisted of the dollars from cpc but also of the social/business networking that may result.
  • Web 2.0 & Power of Default by Prashant: Survival strategies of the Default were discussed concluding that the Default is the way and its here to stay. Paticipants debated on the revenue models for the Web 2.0 concluding that advertising was not the only alternative (37Signals being one of the Web2.0 companys which has a concrete revenue model other than advertising).
  • Knowledge Management 2.0 – Applying structured blogging to knowledge management by Manish Dhingra: The core of the presentation was to familarise all with the concept of structured blogging. Manish also revealed WordPress and Movable Type plugins to facilitate structured blogging. One advantage of structured blogging was to clearly differentiate between normal posts and special posts like reviews etc. This would ease the machine readability of such posts. He emphasised on Knowledge Management at the corporate level talking about the corporate-level blogs and the driving force behind them.
  • Elements of Web 2.0 – Micro-content, Mobiles and Communities by VeerChand Bothra: One of the lone presentations which spoke about Mobile 2.0. Veer elaborated on the concept of MoBlogs and generation of micro-content which is independent of the platform be it th web or the mobile. He also gave the first public demo of his project MyToday. At the first glance MyToday looks like any other feed aggregator. But the twist lies in the fact that it aggregates news based on sources rather than on the content of the posts (complementary to what Google News does).
  • Developing MVC based AJAX applications by Kapil Mohan: The use of MVC design pattern on the client-side was quite innovative. Advantages of it were quite evident, reorganising sloppy javascript code into a modularised, manageable code. The Model-View-Controller architecture facilitates pin pointing errors making javascript debugging a lot more easier.
  • Open source Web application testing with WATiR by Angrez Singh: Another interesting presentation for all the Ruby geeks. Angrez presented the easiness with which web applications could be tested using WATiR. He pointed out its advantages over other commercial testing tools which are ‘record and play’ based. He also exhibhited the extension they had developed at Persistent Systems to extend WATiR for Firefox (currently WATiR works only with IE).

The success of BarCamp Delhi will eventually trigger other BarCamps throughout India. Atleast I know that BarCamp Pune is on the charts. Anyone interested?