EMERGENT TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

Emergent technology & social networking is ever-changing, from our home lives to the classroom, technology is changing everywhere.  We are evolving from filmstrips and reel-to-reels to computers with basic programs to Web 2.0. It is widely known technology is rapidly evolving and reshaping our lives. Yet the question becomes not how technology can improve in what we are already doing, but rather how the affordances of these new and emerging technologies can be used to enhance our classrooms and empower our students in ways not previously possible.

Rich Internet Apps:

As the current trend of hybrid web/desktop apps continues, expect to see RIA (rich internet apps) continue to increase in use and functionality. Adobe’s AIR platform (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is one of the leaders, along with Microsoft with its Windows Presentation Foundation. Also in the mix is Laszlo with its open source OpenLaszlo platform and there are several other startups offering RIA platforms. Let’s not forget also that Ajax is generally considered to be an RIA – it remains to be seen though how long Ajax lasts, or whether there will be a ‘2.0’.

As Ryan Stewart wrote for Read/WriteWeb back in April 2006 (well before he joined Adobe), “Rich Internet Apps allow sophisticated effects and transitions that are important in keeping the user engaged. This means developers will be able to take the amazing changes in the Web for granted and start focusing on a flawless experience for the users. It is going to be an exciting time for anyone involved in building the new Web, because the interfaces are finally catching up with the content.”

The past year has proven Ryan right, with Adobe and Microsoft duking it out with RIA technologies. And there’s a lot more innovation to happen yet, so in 10 years time I can’t wait to see what the lay of the RIA land is!

 

ossibly the ultimate Next Big Thing in the history of computing, AI has been the dream of computer scientists since 1950 – when Alan Turing introduced  the Turing test to test a machine’s capability to participate in human-like conversation. In the context of the Web, AI means making intelligent machines. In that sense, it has some things in common with the Semantic Web vision.

Mobile Web is another Next Big Thing on slow boil. It’s already big in parts of Asia and Europe, and it received a kick in the US market this year with the release of Apple’s iPhone. This is just the beginning. In 10 years time there will be many more location-aware services available via mobile devices; such as getting personalized shopping offers as you walk through your local mall, or getting map directions while driving your car, or hooking up with your friends on a Friday night. Look for the big Internet companies like Yahoo and Google to become key mobile portals, alongside the mobile operators.

Companies like Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Palm, Blackberry and Microsoft have been active in the Mobile Web for years now, but one of the main issues with Mobile Web has always been usability. The iPhone has a revolutionary UI that makes it easier for users to browse the Web, using zooming, pinching and other methods. Also, as Alex Iskold noted, the iPhone is a strategy that may expand Apple’s sphere of influence, from web browsing to social networking and even possibly search.

So even despite the iPhone hype, in the US at least (and probably other countries when it arrives) the iPhone will probably be seen in 10 years time as the breakthrough Mobile Web device.

Most industry watchers bet on Facebook to develop the silver bullet for advertising on these sites. In fall 2008 CEO Mark Zuckerberg debuted Beacon, first billed as a “social ad” strategy that would monitor and distribute information about a user’s e-commerce preferences to his friends. Zuckerberg caught flak from the privacy policy, and Beacon was significantly downplayed.

The site recently launched Facebook Connect, which lets users access other sites with their Facebook log-in. Web publishers are excited about it, but for now, the company still relies heavily on “traditional” slow-growing forms of web advertising. Revenues for 2008 are expected to be about $275 million this year, according to several sources, and it is still not profitable.

Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer, the largest outside investor in Facebook, remains optimistic. “Thus far the home-run outcomes have not yet appeared, but I firmly believe we will see them over the next couple of years,” he says, explaining he thinks these companies are still in their infancy. In fact, Accel just announced two new funds, totaling a billion dollars, dedicated to investing in early-stage social-media companies.

Indeed, the Facebooks and MySpaces of the world could still grow up to be economically powerful. Consider that Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) once was just an online bookstore and that Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) started out simply as another search engine.

But today’s Web 2.0 companies may find themselves transformed or even eclipsed by yet another wave of web innovators. New companies are cropping up to expand the utility of the web, creating location-based services and financial payment systems that can be bolted onto existing sites. Often bootstrapped, they are frequently profitable and may get acquired quickly. Even in today’s tough environment, these upstarts are the ones raising money and trying to score a life- or business-altering hit. Welcome to Web 3.0.

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