More on mobility and Web 2.0

There has been quite a lot of hype on the Web 2.0, mostly by O'Reilly, who also run a conference on Web 2.0. Fancy that :-)

Anyway, I was listening to the ITConversations podcast from MySQL user conference by Tim O'Reilly, and he said something that struck a chord: "Web 2.0 is about participation."



Weblogs, wikis, eBay, recommendations, Google pagerank, Flickr, - these are all Web 2.0 services that are built on the infrastructure of participation: anyone can start a weblog. Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia. Anyone can write an recommendation. Anyone can put a web page on the internet, and link to sites they think are good, and increase the Google ranking of those sites. Not everyone needs to be a blogger, but there might be a discussion board somewhere, or a guest book, or even just email, with which you can forward funny links you found on the net. On Web 2.0, people can participate on the services themselves - it's about people sharing and working with others, not corporations or governments or entertainment companies providing content for consumers. They have their place, but streaming multimedia Hollywood H.264 content via hyper-fast 4.5G high-QoS hybrid UMA networks is not what the future is going to look like.

Which brings me to my previous post and mobile phones. Quite a lot of the success of the mobile phones could maybe be attributed also to a culture of participation: anyone can buy a phone[1]. Anyone can make a phone call to anyone. Anyone can send an SMS to anyone else with a mobile phone. Would WAP had been a success, if anyone could've been able to provide content for it - and there had been an easy way to share that content between your friends? (As an aside: have you tried forwarding a link to a web site with a comment to your friend on a mobile phone? It can be done. It might take longer than it takes to read the EU constitution, but it can be done.)

So... How to design mobile applications for Web 2.0? Design for participation. Make sure everyone can contribute. Trust your users. Let them contribute, because they do have something to say. You might not like it, but it is important to them. And try to understand what mobility, the background quality, the connectedness, and the fact that you don't have to consciously use a service for it to be useful, might mean. Make services that make the mobile phone users first-class citizens, and not just guys with crummy browsers and bad connectivity.

I mean... The Web 2.0 is here. We've had it for years, ever since the first email list was created, or the USENET saw the light. It was here before it was even called Web 1.0. It's not really that new, you know. It's just that people have sort of woken up to it now.

[#1] Well, anyone with money, that is. But it's not that expensive, as is evidenced by 2 billion people with mobile phones. Hey, I'm having a vision here! In visions you're supposed to draw fluffy clouds and ignore the harder edges of reality, so bear with me.


I'd like my phone to be more like a computer and less like a phone.

I have the Treo 300, and I look at it like a Palm Pilot that makes phone calls. I use it more for a Todo list, Calendar, Directory, calculator / spreadsheet than I do as a phone.

I think that the cell phone form factor needs some kind of break through in redesign.

  • The screen is too small to be useful for anything. On the other hand, I'm near flat, light colored walls on a regular basis, can I get a screen to project onto the wall? It would be big enough to see, and two or more could look at the same display at one time.
  • The 12 button keypad is not suited to text entry. My oldest sends SMS messages, I can out type her on the keyboard of my Treo, and I can send at twice her speed if I use the handwriting (graffiti) option. Can I get a voice / text option? Have the back open up to be a keyboard?
  • The remote headpiece connection (via bluetooth) is a good thing, it will free the other end up from needing to be a phone. It would be nice to have two or three extra buttons on it (call home, call office, call voice mail) so the base unit can stay on my desk, pocket, dash of the car, etc.
  • Smart voice mail. A few years ago (95/96).I used a system called Wildfire. It was great, it was all voice controlled, super smart, super easy to use. Paul English article on wildfire
  • Storage. I'd like 2-4 GB of storage in my phone so I can use it as my USB thumb drive and keep a handful of songs on it. I could then ditch the IPod. I could then use it for Podcasts.
    • BTW, I wish there was a way to speed up Podcasts to make them talk faster. My voice mail has that option, it would reduce a 30 min Podcast to 15 mins.

--Foster, 07-Sep-2005

Janne Jalkanen is a little bit upset with O'Reilly's hype around Web 2.0, but agrees that "participation" is key, equally in the mobile space.

--Jos Schuurmans, 09-Sep-2005

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"Main_blogentry_070905_2" last changed on 07-Sep-2005 15:35:52 EEST by JanneJalkanen.