Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not Predicting Web 2.0 Winners

I think Sylvia's Ten to ask - How to predict the Web 2.0 winners post misses the point. If you're experimenting, use whatever you please. Just remember you're experimenting. If you're implementing something serious, you should only be considering commodity services from big companies (GMail, Blogger, Flickr...). That is, you shouldn't be predicting winners, you should only consider things that have already clearly won. If you really want to get out on the edge and, say, play with virtual worlds with your kids, just remember that we're still in the AOL vs. CompuServe days there. It really doesn't matter which one you pick because they're all going down in what is the long run in technology terms, but near future in educational time.


Stephen Downes said...

> If you're implementing something serious, you should only be considering commodity services from big companies (GMail, Blogger, Flickr...)

No, this is not good advice. The offerings from the large companies are as unstable as those from any web 2.0 startup - just ask Jotspot users, or Lively users, or even Flickr users.

The lesson should be, use web 2.0 applications - including the big 3 - to experiment, but if you're planning to do something serious, get some software and install it on your own machine, and own the process yourself.

Tom Hoffman said...

Well... certainly my experience is that GMail, Blogger and Flickr are more stable than I am in providing those services.

In terms of schools I may just be trying to figure out a way to carve out a niche for GMail, because I really think schools should get out of the email business one way or another.

Stephen Downes said...

Well, you aren't providing enterprise-level services (at least, I assume you aren't) photo or blogging services.

But you certainly could provide a perfectly good blogging host with, say, WP-MU. And while repository or CMS software isn't (yet) to the level of Flickr, you could offer a perfectly good photo upload service. If you had an enterprise budget.

I understand why you argue schools should get out of the email business. I am inclined to agree - that's why I run my own very reliable email service on my website (the uptime is leaps and bounds better than my corporate email).

And having my own email is better than gmail or hotmail or the others for any number of reasons, ranging from the much more effective spam management I can muster (since my provider (me) isn't also in the business of selling ads to spammers) to SSH tunneling to my site in places (such as my home cable internet account) where utside email traffic is blocked.

Ultimately, individuals should have these services under their own control on their own internet server. In this era of always-on internet there is really no good reason why they should be hosted elsewhere.

Only the current inadequacy of server systems makes this too difficult a choice for individuals. But for an institution, where all the same considerations apply, the difficulty of managing a hosted system is not so much a barrier.