There have been a lot of folks who have been down on the current state of Web startups. They said there is nothing interesting and nothing innovative happening. I think thats a load of bull.
There is a revolution that’s happening online right now but it’s not sexy or exciting enough to be written about in newspapers or major blogs.
The Web is being broken apart into smaller bits. Seems like everyone has some type of RSS feed, API, structured microformatted data, or a platform on which to build upon.
The most important thing is no longer your Web site. It’s making the content, services, and functionality of your Web site available so that your users can consume it however and where ever they please. Steve Rubel has a GREAT article about this, “The Future is Web Services, Not Web Sites.”
Seems like this was the BIG theme at the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami that I attende a few weeks ago.
- Brian Oberkirch talked about the need to move data around between social networks
- Tantek Çelik talked about using Microformats
- Blaine Cook briefly hit on the Twitter API
- Leah Culver apologized to the audience for being slow at getting out a better API for Pownce; and talked about the importance of the API
- Emily Boyd talked about the success and importance of the Remember the Milk API
- and Kevin Marks talked about the Social Graph API
At SXSW, folks were announcing new platforms and APIs like it was going out of style. For example, my friends at MapQuest just announced a free API.
Seems like plenty of folks were talking about the Facebook platform or MySpace’s implementation of OpenSocial.
YouTube recently opened up and has been getting A LOT Of press.
The thing is… these are all tools for developer and publishers. They aren’t out of the box that usesful or interesting to the average joe.
The Twitter API doesn’t mean anything without something like Twitteriffic. The Remember the Milk API isn’t that interesting but how they’ve used a Grease Monkey script and the API to put my todos on the side of GMail is pretty dang hot.
At Clearspring, our CEO Hooman Radfar wrote a great blog post, “Semantic Web Rising“:
Web 2.0 is about the web breaking into pieces. Web 3.0 – the Semantic Web – will put it all back together.
So who is going to be the one to put together all of these APIs, pieces of structure data, and feeds in an interesting and useful way?
In the future will there be a Yahoo Pipes, which makes it even more painless to stich together all of these sources of data?
5 thoughts on “Our current biggest online revolution isn’t user facing…”
First, I agree that there’s lots of innovation happening. It’s in smaller bits — which can sometimes seem (and be) repetitive — but it’s happening at an astounding rate.
Second, the question of who will pull the tiny bits together is an important one. Hopefully it won’t have to be one company but rather enough agreements & standards that we can all help pull it all together just by playing along.
Great post Justin! “Shiny objects” are easy to talk about, but it’s usually the “dull” features and functionality which provide the most usefulness and value.
@Brian: Concur, I hope we’re all the ones putting the “tiny bits” together in new and exciting combinations.
Seeing everything that is happening and how people are bringing the web to themselves has been very fascinating, encouraging and hard to consume for the average joe. When everything is put back together, my hopes is that it will be beneficial to everyone using the web and not just the tech savvy.
But with the work of everyone at FOWA and the developments we talked about in Miami, there is hope and many great non-sexy developments happening around us right now!
I get as excited about APIs as anybody, but I think it’s a stretch to say that they’re now more important than sites. Sure, they can be an important part of businesses like Twitter and Flickr, but we’ve been hearing that the future is web services for at least five years, when SOAP became a W3C recommendation (and of course XMLRPC generated a wave of hype before that).
But the truth is that very few businesses make their money from running subscription web services, and adoption rates for RSS remain pretty low. I agree that this stuff is important and exciting — but these technologies have all been around for at least half a decade.
It’s silly for the tech industry to perpetually insist that something new and exciting is happening *right now* — it shouldn’t be necessary! And it makes conferences like SXSW get more irrelevant by the year, as the quest for novelty leads people to hype things that aren’t really worth the effort.