Sunday, April 09, 2006

Web 2.0 Glossary; believe the hype.

It is easy to dismiss a term such as ‘Web 2.0’ as hype, Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly Media coined the phrase back in October 2004, when he was describing how the world had crashed so spectacular three years earlier. The phrase took hold and the developer community are ‘into it’ so why aren’t interaction designers?

The name itself is reason enough for designers to steer clear of anything ‘Web 2.0’, it is a spectacularly techy choice of name, and is clearly reminiscent of the early days of ‘Web 1.0’ when designers were scared away from switching to interaction design with words like ‘JavaScript’ ‘html’ ‘gifs’ and ‘jpgs’, we remember the web before designers were invited to the party, the most exciting pages consisted of tiled brick backgrounds with lots of text (Times New Roman) and big grey buttons.

No wonder the design community were happy to stay at home and play with Quark, an old buddy that they were completely familiar with. However, with risk came reward, and the designers who made the leap to interaction design were more than rewarded! They also had a lot of fun along the way. So the real question is: Can you afford not to believe the hype?

It is my intention to fully investigate everything about the web mk II, and I will be publishing a series of articles that are related to the new ‘WebTop’ experience, beginning with a glossary of Web 2.0 terms so that designers have no excuse to stay away.

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. A group of technologies that shift the burden for processing information from the server to the local PC. This allows a browser to download all of the information it needs to render the page, including database variables, and lets the visitor use and manipulate that information on their PC without having to refer back to the server. This is clearly closer to running an application, reducing site-traffic.

Application Programming Interface. A frame of reference that allows third-party developers to produce sites or applications that draw on data presented by the other site. An example of this is the Microsoft API lets you embed the maps on your own site and overlay your own data, almost as if the maps were stored on your own local server. To see a number of examples of this visit the gallery at

A collection of links, often stored in a database, so that it can be manipulated in an intelligent manner.

Really Simple Syndication / Rich Site Summary. An XML-based document structure that presents the content, but not the formatting of a website. Tags within the file define the purpose of each piece of information in the structure, allowing it to be re-used in other pages.

Ruby on Rails:
Application framework developed by 37Signals that allows for the rapid development of MySQL –based applications. Could be the most important language in the development of Web 2.0 applications, a logical progression from PHP and a good first step for programmers.

A descriptive term applied to any kind of data to make it easier to find. The most famous example are the tags applied to images in Flickr that allow you to search for and categorise images stored in the site.

Tag cloud:
A visual representation of the number of times a particular tag had been applied to objects in a given database.

A special kind of link that joins an original piece of content with derivative works, or new pieces of content that refer to, or were inspired by, the original. This is most commonly found on blogs.

A special kind of site to which users can add their own information, or change the information that is already stored there. Most famous example: Wikipedia. Wikis were the initial idea for how the web should run but technology limited this.


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