The Third Wave

Guardian Unlimited speaks of the third wave of the Internet :

Static web pages were simple things. Someone created a layout using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), and you went and read it with a browser. Dynamic pages, by contrast, are different for every user. They could include, for example, your choice of TV listings, cartoons and other things plucked from a database. After static web pages and dynamic web pages, we are now developing what some are calling “the programmable web”…

The programmable web is different for two main reasons. First, instead of going to look at a web page, you can get a computer to extract the information for you. Second, you don’t have to view that information in a browser: you could use it in a different application, or on a different device, such as a mobile phone.

Web services APIs are already enabling thousands of people to extract information from Google, Amazon, eBay and other sites without visiting them. Microsoft, IBM and many large corporations are betting big bucks that web services represent not just the future of the web, but the whole of information technology. (Microsoft’s .Net strategy is based on this belief.)

So how does this affect you and me? It makes Technology work for us, instead of the other way around !

An application of this comes to mind… A few days ago, the folks behind Emergic and BlogStreet launched a new service called the Info Aggregator. Once you sign up on it, you can subscribe to RSS (automatically-generated summary) feeds from weblogs or news sources (mostly free), and receive the content in your email Inbox ! You no longer need to go to the various websites to read what you want, nor need to install a news reading software just to do that task. It comes to you in your Inbox ! Now that’s innovation, isn’t it? (I have been looking for the means to do that for weeks.)

There are a number of important issues to be ironed out in the creation of a programmable web. Most importantly, every one needs to agree on standards that make these interactions possible. Plus, these standards need to work correctly regardless of the type of computer, operating system, or application you use. But if present trends are any indicator of what can be expected, I think there will be no stopping the third wave.

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