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Paul Graham about Web 2.0

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  • Shlomi Fish
    See: http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html Also see: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/10/21.html http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/11/03b.html
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 22, 2005
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      See:

      http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html

      Also see:

      http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/10/21.html

      http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/11/03b.html

      Paul Graham explains what he thinks Web 2.0 is, and why he doesn't like the
      term. The essay is very nice and all. One thing that I'd liked there and that
      I can relate to:

      <<<
      My experience of writing for magazines suggests an explanation. Editors. They
      control the topics you can write about, and they can generally rewrite
      whatever you produce. The result is to damp extremes. Editing yields 95th
      percentile writing-- 95% of articles are improved by it, but 5% are dragged
      down.
      >>>

      In some of the articles I wrote for O'ReillyNet I felt that a lot of colour
      has been eliminated by the editing. Things like changing passive tense into
      active, or using simpler words. This is only part of the entire essay, and
      not really the conclusion, but I just wanted to mention it here.

      Regards,

      Shlomi Fish

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
      Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

      95% of the programmers consider 95% of the code they did not write, in the
      bottom 5%.
    • Shlomi Fish
      Hi all! Well, replying to myself I d like to take this stand and point out some problems I found with Paul Graham s Web 2.0 essay. I ll probably put it in my
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 23, 2005
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        Hi all!

        Well, replying to myself I'd like to take this stand and point out some
        problems I found with Paul Graham's "Web 2.0" essay. I'll probably put it in
        my blog eventually, but meanwhile I'd like to receive your comments.

        Here goes:

        <<<<<<<<<
        One ingredient of its meaning is certainly Ajax, which I can still only just
        bear to use without scare quotes. Basically, what "Ajax" means is "Javascript
        now works." And that in turn means that web-based applications can now be
        made to work much more like desktop ones.
        >>>>>>>>>

        Ajax, the way I understand it does not mean "Javascript now works.". AJAX
        stadnds for "Asynchronous Javascript and XML" and means that the JavaScript
        on the web browser queries the server for extra data using XmlHttpRequest or
        whatever. As far as JavaScript sophistication is concerned there's, in
        growing order:

        1. Plain XHTML and CSS.
        2. Non-DHTML JavaScript. (for form validation, etc.)
        3. DHTML (= Dynamic HTML) JavaScript. (where the content of the HTML elements
        on the page is modified)
        4. AJAX.

        Now, many Web problem domains don't need the functionality given by 2, 3,
        and/or 4. Some of them perhaps can benefit from it, but will work pretty well
        without it.

        <<<<<<<<<<<
        At Y Combinator we advise all the startups we fund never to lord it over
        users. Never make users register, unless you need to in order to store
        something for them. If you do make users register, never make them wait for a
        confirmation link in an email; in fact, don't even ask for their email
        address unless you need it for some reason.
        >>>>>>>>>>>

        One reason people like to use an E-mail handshake is because it prevents spam.
        It's not a fool-proof solution, and there are other ways to help fight spam.
        Another reason for that is that generally people forget to visit sites, while
        they don't forget to check their E-mails. To quote a certain distinguished
        Israeli FOSSer:

        <<<
        If it isn't present in my E-mail, it doesn't exist. And if E-mail says one
        thing, and the entire world says something else - then E-mail will prevail.
        >>>

        Another good things about an E-mail handshake, is that your users are less
        susceptible to mis-spellings in entering their E-mail address.

        Note that one should still design it correctly. I am now completely locked out
        out of http://www.stage.co.il/ because my previous E-mail provider dropped
        the email that they sent me.

        <<<<<<<<<
        iTunes is Web 2.0ish in this sense. Finally you can buy individual songs
        instead of having to buy whole albums. The recording industry hated the idea
        and resisted it as long as possible. But it was obvious what users wanted, so
        Apple flew under the labels. [4] Though really it might be better to describe
        iTunes as Web 1.5. Web 2.0 applied to music would probably mean individual
        bands giving away DRMless songs for free.
        >>>>>>>>>

        Many bands are already giving DRM-less songs without charge. Some of the
        popular contemporary artists (or the record labels that contract them) still
        resist the idea, but I expect to see more and more songs available online in
        the future. I still think music stores (without DRM of course) are a good
        idea, because they concentrate all the music from the various bands and
        records labels in one place, and allow people to download it, while paying
        for stuff. This is instead of hunting the entire Internet for them, or using
        P2P services, which require more time to get good results from.

        <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
        Odd as it might sound, we tell startups that they should try to make as little
        money as possible. If you can figure out a way to turn a billion dollar
        industry into a fifty million dollar industry, so much the better, if all
        fifty million go to you. Though indeed, making things cheaper often turns out
        to generate more money in the end, just as automating things often turns out
        to generate more jobs.
        >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

        Just wanted to note that I like Graham's note that "automating things often
        turns out to generate more jobs.". This is a direct anti-thesis to what Joel
        Spolsky said about open-source in a podcast interview with him several months
        ago. He said something that programmers can use open source code to
        facilitate creating solutions, and while they have an easier time and like
        it, there would be less demand for programmers. I disagree with Joel (and
        agree with Paul Graham) for several reasons:

        1. Open source code still requires programmers to make a good use of. More
        powerful, cheap, frameworks means more demand for programmers.

        2. The same can be said on non-FOSS or not-entirely-FOSS software. If I can
        buy a library for $500 that will cost me a lot of time and money to develop
        on my own, then again my life is easier.

        3. I'd like to see good, cheap solutions for old problems, so programmers can
        say that they can solve these problems easily and move on to solving new
        problems. While I cannot prove it, I don't think the human race is ever going
        to run out of interesting problems to solve, and solving the same problems
        time and again, (usually in a sub-optimal and ad-hoc fashion) is not
        beneficial.

        <<<<<<<<<<<<
        The ultimate target is Microsoft. What a bang that balloon is going to make
        when someone pops it by offering a free web-based alternative to MS Office.
        [5] Who will? Google? They seem to be taking their time. I suspect the pin
        will be wielded by a couple of 20 year old hackers who are too naive to be
        intimidated by the idea. (How hard can it be?)
        >>>>>>>>>>>>

        Yet more classic Paul Graham hubris. (similar to what I pointed he said about
        being able to take Oracle single-handed). Writing an office replacement is
        hard. It took Microsoft and similar companies many years to write and perfect
        their office suites, with lots of brilliant, productive programmers on their
        teams. It is still taking a lot of time for Sun and IBM to write
        OpenOffice.org.

        Arguably OOo and similar office suites are written in C and C++ and one can
        use languages like JavaScript on the client side and Perl/etc. on the server
        if they're AJAXed. But a fraction of a large number is still a large number.

        And then there are the technical difficulties of doing it with AJAX as of
        2005: the limitations of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the limitations of HTTP,
        etc. I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm saying that it might be, or the end
        result might be disappointing. There are some future or not yet commonplace
        technologies or ideas that seem promising, [1] but one cannot yet depend on
        them yet.

        ------------------

        Despite all that, Paul Graham's essay was very nice, and as I noted
        previously, I really liked it.

        Regards,

        Shlomi Fish

        [1] - Technologies or ideas such as client-side Perl/Pythone/etc., Compiled
        JavaScript, Mozilla's XUL or any other true user-interface language, SVG,
        XForms 2.0, CSS 3.0, XHTML 2.0, etc.

        On Tuesday 22 November 2005 18:34, Shlomi Fish wrote:
        > See:
        >
        > http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html
        >
        > Also see:
        >
        > http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/10/21.html
        >
        > http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/11/03b.html
        >
        > Paul Graham explains what he thinks Web 2.0 is, and why he doesn't like the
        > term. The essay is very nice and all. One thing that I'd liked there and
        > that I can relate to:

        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
        Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

        95% of the programmers consider 95% of the code they did not write, in the
        bottom 5%.
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