Friday, June 23, 2006

Ajax and I just thought it was a kitchen clenser

So as you may or may not know Web 2.0 is finally here with all of its AJAX, wikis, and blogs. What is Web 2.0 mean for you? What is AJAX? Why should I care? Why is the sky blue? All of these questions can be answered if you bare with me.

First off I hate all these stupid buzzwords. The term Web 2.0 doesn't even really mean anything. It is just basically a term concoted by O'Reilly Media and MediaLive International for a conference comparing old and new technologies. It sort of refers to the way things went from non dynamic, non social, non asyncronous to a more robust, social, almost application type style. For instance this blog right here would be something that is part of Web 2.0. It allows for social interaction, as well a constantly changing information based on contributions not only by the admins, but by the community as well. For instance I can add a post and everyone out there reading it can in real time add their comments and tell me how lame and boring it is. That is the beauty of it. You may ask what the heck is different with this than with that of a forum. Well the differences are semantic in a way. Let's take a blog as an example. I or you a "normal" person can create a social application that others can contribute to that is easy to setup and control. It is not centralized, it is not in the large corporations interests, it is yours, mine, and ours. Like I said it is a lot of semantics. There is an interesting wiki on this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0. Now onto one of the major technologies behind Web 2.0, AJAX.

Now I am sure everyone who is in a tech field, especially web based, has heard of that awful term AJAX. Now you are probably saying AWFUL why would he use such a term to something that has been quite innovation and important to the web. Well it is like the first time you heard the Macarena it was different, catchy, even a little cool, but after being bombarded with the song from every possible angle immaginable you just wished for the day someone would just pop your eardrums. The term is just getting a bit overused like Bennifer or Brangelina. Now I heard the other day someone wants to coin the term Fjax. What's next KPAX (oops too late).

I guess I should go a little deeper and explain what it is and why it is sooo important. AJAX = Asynchronous Javascript And XML. What does this mean? Well it means that if a webpage you are on is coded using this style it will act as if it were a desktop application. It will seem more interactive and instantaneous. This is done by sending data back to the server every time you change something and then data being sent back at the same time to update the page. This works much better than regular webpages because you don't have to wait for the entire page to refresh after you have made changes, they occur in real time. This makes everything just seem more fluid. Pros it is similar to a desktop applications. Cons try using a back button (it sort of breaks it) and if the network is slow it really does not update in real time. What this could be the beginning of is something akin to a shift or a transition. Moving from desktop based applications to webbased applications. Using powerful tools such as AJAX you can theoretically create applications like Spreadsheets and Text Editors (actually not so theorical anymore). With so many people gaining access to broadband internet connections this could be the start of a revolution between web based and locally based applications.

When it comes down to it, if you ask me, I think the term Web 2.0 was coined to help lift the Web up a little after the .com bust. I mean for a while I think people lost interest. It was a wild trip with companies that never made a profit sipping Cristal and having big money fights. People were millionares on paper, but spending it like it was real. When everything finally corrected itself the reality tree was shaken and all the worthless apples fell leaving only the strong to survive. Because of this there was fear of the internet (at least for investors). The internet for all intensive pruposes is like a child that is still growing and maturing. It will have its share of accidents, but like a smart child it will learn from its mistakes and become stronger. It will also mature, become deeper, develop its own personality, become more social, etc. That I think is what "Web 2.0" is the start of. A next step in something that is constantly changing. It might be just another buzzword, but it is also shows how it does change and how much, rather you like it or not, it has become quite important to everyones life. I am sure this is just the start. I am sure there will be a WEB 3.0 along with Internet2. What this really means is that it will get better with time and in the long run it will be worth it for everyone.

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