Notes from the Road

Thoughts about the world as I travel through it

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Archive for the ‘Web’ Category

Strategy

I have been involved in strategy for a long time, both inside companies and as a consultant. I have recently joined forces with a small group of strategically minded executives to offer a new kind of consulting. The group is called Interlink Partners, and our focus is on helping tech companies rapidly make changes that will strengthen their business.

We combine strategy, operations, venture and international experience, and we really represent a complete virtual management team.

Marketing with Integrity

Having spent a long time in marketing and strategy, I’ve been often frustrated by the emphasis on “spin”—making things look better than they are. It’s a temporary way to make people feel better, but it doesn’t work as a sustainable strategy for marketing and sales.

This site on Squidoo is dedicated to thinking about this issue—it also links to other business-related resources:

http://www.squidoo.com/marketingwithintegrity

Squidoo is interesting: it’s like a huge forest of bulletin boards, in which anyone can create a topic and host a discussion.

More about Web 2.0

I wrote a while ago about Web 2.0, and the connections between people that it enables. I still think that’s perhaps the most important social impact of Web 2.0, and the real difference from a user standpoint. But there’s another angle, which is the development side.

When I moved beyond static web pages I learned about Content Management Systems, which are typically a combination of software systems that allow the separation of the content of a website from its presentation, and indeed from the infrastructure that manages all the content and presentation. This site is built on one of those CMSs – WordPress, and there’s a family of such CMSs, built on four open-source technologies: Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP. Put the four initials together and they spell LAMP.

The new thing I learned is that the structure of these software systems is a really important part of enabling the Web 2.0 experience. One aspect of the way we experience Web 2.0 applications is that they update much faster and look and feel much more like desktop applications. In the old web, most sites would have to repaint most or all of a page every time you clicked. Now with Web 2.0 technologies like Ajax, it’s possible to do a lot of much more dynamic things that improve the sense of fluidity and naturalness in the web experience. Ajax is just one of the new technologies, but it’s important because it allows for the asynchronous updating of parts of a web page. Asynchronous is important because it means you don’t have to wait for every click to be processed before making the next click. Ajax also allows an intelligent application to pre-load parts of the page that you may not yet see, so the experience of updating appears almost instantaneous. When you pan across a Google map, it’s Ajax that gets the new parts of the map in the background. So in summary, the web is evolving along two significant dimensions:

  1. New ways to interact with other people through social networking
  2. New ways to interact with websites through Ajax and other interactive web technologies.

Another “Notes from the Road”

At www.notesfromtheroad.com (he got the URL before me!) you will find a great site that’s described thus:

Notes from the Road is a project in experimental travel writing – it is about subjective travel; the kind of real world of random things and real people.

The author is Erik Gauger, and I’m impressed with his photos and descriptions of some very interesting journeys. This is the kind of thing the web is great for – a fascinating personal story told with artistry and good observation. His pictures are wonderful and contribute immeasurably to the overall package.

 Have a look!

What is Web 2.0 really?

There are lots of definitions, but I think the most useful aspect of Web 2.0 is the way these technologies connect individuals. I saw a statistic the other day suggesting that 60% of online news content is now published by individuals, rather than networks and portals.

That’s a huge change.

Web 2.0 is based on the realization that even if the answer you want is not online, someone who knows the answer is online. The social networking and folksonomy sites are as much about people as content. Through them you can find out who is thinking what, and decide for yourself who you want to talk to.

When I wanted to learn how to integrate photos with my blog, I didn’t find the answer I wanted on the web – but I found some people who had solved the same problem, and by interacting with their blogs and discussion groups, I found the information I needed. When I finished my work, I let them see it, and we all derived some small pleasure from seeing progress.

So this is why I think Web 2.0 is so interesting – it’s the way it connects people with people, rather than just connecting people with information.

Web 2.0 – Inside the Bubble

I had the chance to attend a panel discussion in London this week – at the Serpentine Gallery, in the inflatable bubble building.

The topic was Web 2.0 – the set of techniques upon which this site is based. The meeting was sponsored by Banner – a UK agency that’s part of the WPP group.

It was interesting because it shows how much the web has changed. We are no longer satisfied by pushing HTML out at our audience – we crave interactivity, and the ability to connect with real people through their web presence.

Banner published a set of pictures on flickr here, and a video on YouTube with a snippet of an observation I made in the discussion here.

Web 2.0 may be important enough to start another Internet bubble – this time funded by advertising and fuelled by consumer and business participation.

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