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Web 2.0 – Lightweight Programming Models and Cost-Effective Scalability (Less is More)

The final in this series of O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 patterns is ‘lightweight models and cost-effective scalability’. It refers to services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability. Scalability concerns both technical and business aspects. O’Reilly, saying if the model for Web 1.0 companies was “get big fast”, now it’s “small is the new big”, has turned things on its head.

With the development and philosophy of Web 2.0 innovations, much more can be done for less. Associated with this pattern are the buzzwords, viral marketing and viral advertising (for example, Hotmail’s email practice of appending advertising for itself in outgoing mail from its users) and an expansion on this is a viral expansion loop. The benefits include faster time to market and greater adaptability – lower cost economics allows for greater flexibility.

Digg for example launched in December 2004 with $2,000, a single hosted server ($99 monthly), free open source software, and a ‘pay-as-you-go’ outsourced developer ($10 hourly from Elance). By spring of 2006, Digg was serving more than 100 million page views a day, with 90 servers, and a staff size of only 15. Other examples of doing more with less and using viral marketing/advertising are, Google AdSense (advertising solution),, Flickr (photo sharing), YouTube (video sharing), MySpace (social networking), and QOOP (mash-up for photo books and posters).

Less is More – example: Craigslist

Craigslist was started by Craig Newmark in early 1995 as an email mailing list of mainly social events of interest to software and Internet developers in the San Francisco area. It soon grew to accommodate user’s needs such as new job listings and other classified advertisements. The Craigslist website began in 1996 and today the site design is still simple without any pictures. It now incorporates international cities with classified sections such as, community, housing, jobs, for sale, personals, discussion forums, services, and gigs.

“Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead it prefers to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.” It is a popular free online classifieds site which uses the ‘lightweight models and cost-effective scalability’ competently.

The simplicity of the Craiglist website

In a nutshell, the philosophy behind developing for Web 2.0 is “less is more”. Its objectives are simplicity and efficiency. Software start-up companies are requiring minimal funding to design Web applications that do one thing, do it well, and are not top-heavy with ancillary features. This provides the user with a specialized application that has a very low learning curve. By designing light, adaptable applications, these companies are able to respond quickly to market needs (Kroski 2008 p.4). Success in the Web 2.0 world depends on a successful user experience.

Thank you for visiting my blogs. Sayonara. Mata irrasshai ne~


Craigslist – Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
Digg – Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
Kroski, Ellyssa (2008). Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
TechAddress – Digg Inc. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
YouTube: Craig Newmark, founder of speaks at the RGK Center. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
Wikipedia – Viral marketing.Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
(on a darker note:


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Web 2.0 – The Long Tail

The phrase “The Long Tail” was first coined by Chris Anderson  in 2004 and later expanded in his book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More in 2006. It was also popularized as another of O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 patterns (mentioned in this series). The Long Tail consists of the less popular interests of users. O’Reilly describes it as, “the collective power of the small sites that make up the bulk of the web’s content.”

The Long Tail as a graph looks like this (also called a ‘power law’ or ‘Pareto’ distribution curve) –

With some imagination it might also look like this –

The Long Tail

Wikipedia states that The Long Tail “refers to the statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the tail of a probability distribution than observed under a ‘normal’ or Gaussian distribution. This has gained popularity in recent times as a retailing concept describing the niche strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities – usually in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities.” Kroski (2008) puts it simply as “the less popular interests of users.”

She adds that “when creating a power law distribution chart to map out popular topics among users, the minority topics form a long tail leading to the end of the chat. What makes the long tail interests so fascinating is that when they are added up, these non-mainstream interests far outnumber the popular ones.” (Kroski, 2008, p. 6). Additionally, Anderson (2006) points out that the long tail accounts for between 25 percent to 40 percent of’s sales, and that one-fifth of all Netflix (DVD rentals) rentals are from titles other than their top 3,000 titles. There are long-tail enthusiasts and critics (Anita Elberse on Anderson’s devotion to Rhapsody and Quickflix data; or David Hornik).

“The potential for online retailers to make more money than their bricks and mortar counterparts because there is virtually unlimited “shelf space” to offer products. Another key factor is that merchandise is offered via recommendations with links from one product to another so that people who purchase one item are encouraged to look at several others. Most notably, book, video and music sales, where there is a vast supply of product, have benefited significantly from this approach, exemplified by, Netflix and Rhapsody.” (Computer Dictionary Definition)

There are many examples of ‘The Long Tail’ including NetFlix, Blockbuster, Rhapsody, Google’s advertising & other Google services & mission,, CustomFlix, BookSurge, Barnes & Noble, New York Times, Captchas,, Skype, eBay, Craigslist, Flickr, iTunes,, SocialText, Confluence, and Kapow Technologies. I would like to present to you the “Wired” editor and author, Chris Anderson explaining his theory of “The Long Tail.” This “blew me away”! Please watch Chris’ fantastic lecture…

The Long Tail – YouTube featuring Chris Anderson

The Long Tail – example: Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk (RTM) enables its members to create to-do lists which are arranged and displayed in a tabbed interface. Users can include detailed information about tasks, set priorities for items, designate due dates, and tag tasks with keywords.

Listmakers may create contacts and groups with whom they may share their lists. RTM lists may be accessed via modules on Netvibes (see my previous blog on Rich User Experience – Netvibes)  and Goggle start pages, and through Sidekicks and other mobile devices. Users can opt to be reminded about tasks with upcoming due dates by email, IM, or text messages sent to their mobile phone.

Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk

In conclusion, combination of the power law probability graph (see graph/illustration above) showing popularity ranking and the direct access to consumers via Web technology (the invisible crowd) has opened up new business opportunities in the “long tail”. Consequently, Web 2.0 applications are designed to serve not only the mainstream and the widespread, but also the fringe interests!


Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Wired. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from
Anderson, C. (2006). The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. New York: Hyperion Books.
Computer Dictionary – Retrieved May 1, 2010, from
Elberse, A. (2008). The Long Tail Debate: A Response to Chris Anderson. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from
Hornik, D. (2006). Chris Anderson Strikes Again: The Economy of Abundance. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from
Illustration of a dinosaur with a Long Tail – Retrieved May 2, 2010, from source: not given;
Kroski, E. (2008). Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from
Remember The Retrieved May 12, 2010, from
Wikipedia – The Long Tail – Retrieved May 2, 2010, from
YouTube – “Wired” editor and author Chris Anderson explains his theory of “The Long Tail,” Retrieved May 2, 2010, from


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Web 2.0 – Perpetual Beta

Following on in this series of blogs, another part of the basic patterns of Web 2.0 identified by O’Reilly is “Perpetual beta”. According to O’Reilly, when it comes to Web 2.0, “the users must be treated as co-developers”, thus, “the product is developed in the open with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis.” While many proprietary software companies (Microsoft, Adobe, and Netscape) collect their releases/bug fixes and release them in one go, some Web 2.0 applications such as Flickr, deploy new build-ups up to every half hour . Warr (2008) points out the example of eBay, who “deploys a new version of its service approximately every two weeks.” Therefore, instead of scheduled releases, such services are constantly updated.

Similar to ‘Release early, Release often’ (RERO), the Internet has allowed for easy deployment, to release smaller and rapid releases, and the faster features get to users (real-time testers), the sooner the development team is provided with valuable feedback. Perpetual beta also captures the essence of a couple of my previous blogs, “Harnessing the Collective Intelligence” and “Software above the Level of a Single Device”. It is a way of testing and debugging software, however it is also for this reason it is not used on any mission critical (any machine that is essential to the core function of an organisation) machine. Versions no longer exist as there is perpetual beta development with timestamps instead.

Perpetual Beta – IMVU a social network and 3D virtual world

Apparently, IMVU rolls out fifty deployments each and every day, and they’re doing so by the magic of Continuous Deployment which sounds similar to perpetual beta.Eric Ries, the co-founding and serving CTO of IMVU, states this in his blog, “Continuous Deployment at IMVU” and “Continuous deployment in 5 easy steps“.

The IMVU homepage describes IMVU as “a social network and 3D virtual world where millions of people meet, chat and have fun in animated 3D scenes. You can shop and dress up your avatar with your own personalized look, design and decorate your own 3D space, and connect with new people from around the world.”

IMVU software is a free download and easy to use. You can shop and dress up in style, meet new people in 3D, create the experience you’ve always wanted by customizing and designing your space, and sell your own designs.  Additionally, pick your scene, furniture and accessories, and then invite other members to visit. At the time that I visited the site, there were 84,225 people currently online! Popular IMVU neighbourhoods include anime, fantasy, furry, goth, rock, romance, scifi, and (good heavens!) vampire. Here’s how it’s done…


IMVU homepage. Retrieved 13 May, 2010 from
Musser, J. and O’Reilly, T (2006). Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices – Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Ries, E. (2009). Continuous Deployment in 5 Easy Steps. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from
Secret Plans and Clever Tricks – Retrieved April 25, 2010, from quoted in O’Reilly (above)
Warr, W.A. (2008). Social software: fun and games, or business tools? Journal of Information Science, 34 (4), 591-604. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Wikipedia – mission critical – Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Wikipedia – Perpetual beta – Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Wikipedia –  RERO – Retrieved April 25, 2010, from,_release_often


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Web 2.0 – Software Above the Level of a Single Device

“Software Above the Level of a Single Device” is another one of the basic patterns of Web 2.0 identified by O’Reilly in 2004. It stems in part from Dave Stutz’s concept that “useful software written above the level of the single device will command high margins for a long time to come”. Pertaining to open source software developers (as opposed to the old paradigm of proprietary software vendors e.g. Microsoft) and their free open source software.

Tim O’Reilly states, “I have a simple test that I use in my talks to see if my audience of computer industry professionals is thinking with the old paradigm or the new.”How many of you use Linux?” I ask. Depending on the venue, 20-80% of the audience might raise its hands. “How many of you use Google?” Every hand in the room goes up. And the light begins to dawn. Every one of them uses Google‘s massive complex of 100,000 Linux servers, but they were blinded to the answer by a mindset in which “the software you use” is defined as the software running on the computer in front of you. Most of the “killer apps” of the Internet, applications used by hundreds of millions of people, run on Linux or FreeBSD. But the operating system, as formerly defined, is to these applications only a component of a larger system. Their true platform is the Internet.”

We now have Internet television and Internet gaming consoles (X-Box and PS consoles have the ability to access online gaming). Furthermore, the current era of ubiquitous networked computing has extended to networked mobile devices such as smart phones and Apple‘s new iPad. Web 2.0 applications are riding on the mobile device wave/platform. Open source software developers are looking at opportunities to extend Web 2.0 to devices. From discovering new ways users can make contact via their social networks to looking at the next revolution of future trends, and keeping it all really simple for everyone’s benefit.

The following are a few examples of leveraging the power of the web platform:

TiVo is a high definition (HD) digital video recorder (similar to Foxtel), optimised to work with a broadband connection. Features include the ability to download HD content directly from the Internet onto the TiVo hard drive, or store family photos and favourite YouTube clips on the unit.

TiVo HD hits Australia

The release of the HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo Add-In has made storing content from a TiVo to a computer or Windows Home Server possible. “TiVo DVRs are easily connected to home networks, allowing users to schedule recordings using TiVo’s website, transfer recordings between TiVo units (Multi-Room Viewing) or transfer to and from a home computer (TiVoToGo transfers).  A TiVo can also play music and view photos over the network, and access third-party applications written for TiVo’s Home Media Engine (HME) API.” (Kenny)

Google Latitude on your mobile phone allows you to see your friend’s location on a map or in a list. Plazes is similar to Google Latitude.

Sugarsync and Dropbox are online file storage/backup, share, and sync software applications. What kind of mobile lifestyle will a single smart phone device of the future provide?

Software Above the Level of a Single Device – iTunes

iPod next to iTunes features

iPod next to iTunes features

An example O’Reilly always uses when explaining this pattern is iTunes.

“It seems to me that iTunes highlights the potential of a new application model beyond the web browser, where the personal computer acts as a control and management station for a handheld device, mediating and managing that device’s access both to personal computer data and the internet cloud. Other Apple applications have some characteristics, but it’s in iTunes, where Apple controls all levels of the user experience, that you really see the power of the model. [sic] It’s about managing all of my digital assets, and making them available to me where I want them. And those assets are increasingly ‘above the level of a single device.’”

iTunes, a proprietary digital media player application, is used for organizing and playing music and video files on a Mac or PC, and to add it to an iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV. Wikipedia adds, via the Internet, iTunes can connect to the iTunes Store (“a store that’s always open and just a click away”) to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows (American Idol), applications, iPod games, audiobooks, podcasts, feature length films and movie rentals, iTunes gift cards, and ringtones for the iPhone. iTunes is also available in a number of different languages .

iTunes store

Apple is also delivering iTunesU – university lectures for Cambridge, Oxford, East Tennessee State, and Open University. For example, Joseph Stiglitz, an Oxford University economics lecturer was reportedly at the top of a global iTunes educational chart for a lecture about the credit crunch. In its first week, the Oxford iTunes service had 60,000 downloads.

In a nutshell, the desktop PC is no longer the only access device for Internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that connected and mobile. The aim is to produce efficient, design usable, attractive interface Web 2.0 applications for Internet services across all platforms, and push the limits of the technology.

More to follow… please stay tuned


Coughlan , S. (2008). Oxford lecture tops iTunes chart. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Dropbox –
Google Latitude – Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
iTunes Store – Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Kenny, C. (2010). TiVo Storage and Windows Home Server. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
Kidman, A. (2009). Tivo Genie Lets You Schedule Recording Remotely. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
O’Reilly, T. (2004). Open Source Paradigm Shift. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
O’Reilly, T. (2007). Software Above the Level of a Single Device. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from
Plazes – Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
Stutz, D. (2003). Advice to Microsoft regarding commodity software.  Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
Sugarsync – Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
TiVo – Retrieved April 24, 2010, from
Wikipedia – Retrieved April 24/25, 2010, from,, and,


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Web 2.0 – Rich User Experiences

Following on in this series, another one of the basic patterns of Web 2.0 identified by O’Reilly in 2004 is “Rich User Experiences”. HTML5 and AJAX are programming web development technologies offering exciting new user experiences. The arrival of Google Maps introduced AJAX, a new type of technology that allows information to be processed without reloading a Web page. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), a term coined by Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path, is a combination of several technologies, each thriving in its own right, and coming together in commanding new ways. Google Maps was one of the very first full-scale web based applications with “rich user interfaces and PC-equivalent interactivity”. “AJAX is also a key component of Web 2.0 applications” and O’Reilly gives examples “such as Flickr, … 37signals’ applications basecamp and backpack, as well as other Google applications such as Gmail and Orkut.”

Rich User Experience – Netvibes

A brilliant example for ‘Rich User Experiences’ applications is Netvibes, “a free web service that brings together your favorite media sources and online services. Everything that matters to you — blogs, news, weather, videos, photos, social networks, email and much more — is automatically updated every time you visit your page.” Netvibes uses RSS feeds and AJAX technologies.

Wikipedia describes Netvibes as “a multi-lingual Ajax-based personalized start page or personal web portal much like Pageflakes, My Yahoo!, A, iGoogle, and Microsoft Live. It is organized into tabs, with each tab containing user-defined modules” (sometimes called gizmos, widgets, or gadgets). Krowski defines widgets as, “small applications that display structured digital content, often through an RSS feed. Widgets can display content ranging from blog feeds, Flickr photos, and Google documents to event calendars and to-do lists. Similarly, these gizmos are an effective way of displaying updates of sporting events, stock quotes, and news. These tools can be utilized both on the Web or on the desktop. They can display as well as aggregate content, and they can be dropped into aggregators themselves. These versatile applications can be found on the new breed of Web 2.0 start pages, portals, and community Web sites.”

The “top content” suggested by Netvibes are Artists, News, Business, Sport, TV, movies & music, Tools & technology, Fun & games, Lifestyle, Shopping, Twitter, and Flickr. Information is easily organised into your own tab layout. Netvibes has added the ability to make public start pages that can be used to represent a company or organization as a branded portal and marketing device. Consequently, major corporations such as Time and USA Today, have created these Netvibes Universes for their content.

After initial set up Netvibes immediately displayed an impressive array of Australian news – the ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Herald Sun and The Age – national headlines. Additionally, it revealed the local Aussie weather forecast and Australian sports news. ‘Flickr Most Interesting Photos’ was more captivating than the “3 Foot Ninja” under ‘Fun & games’.

If necessary, there are FAQs, an extensive ‘Help’ (in English and French), and ‘Troubleshooting common issues’ menus. For the experts, there is a ‘Widget developers’ to “use Netvibes to build your own widgets and distribute them on Netvibes and other platforms”. The Netvibes ‘Getting Started’ page mentions, there are at least 40 Essential Widgets to add to your page and access at your convenience.

Significantly by using Web 2.0 tools such as AJAX, developers can offer users a more compelling and richer experience. You re-mix the Web site.

More to follow… please stay tuned


Bechhofer, S. (n.d.). History of The Semantic Web.
Kroski, Ellyssa (2008). Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
Netvibes – Retrieved March 27, 2010, from  (Widgets Directory)  (Twitter Updates)
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from
Wikipedia – Netvibes Retrieved March 28, 2010, from
Wikipedia – RSS feeds Retrieved March 27, 2010, from Retrieved March 27, 2010, from
Wikipedia – widget Retrieved March 27, 2010, from

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Web 2.0 Best Practices: Application Programming Interfaces (API), Mash-ups, and Remix-ability

These are about new web services, applications that take data from multiple sources and merge it; providing added value. Wikipedia explains, “application programming interface (API) is an interface implemented by a software program to enable interaction with other software.” In web development, “a mashup is a web page or application that uses or combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service. It implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open APIs and data sources to produce enriching results that were not necessarily the original reason for producing the raw source data. The term mashup is also used to describe a remix of digital data.”

The following examples of mashups make use of Google Maps API and Flickr. Combining BBC Travel feeds with Google Maps to show real time traffic problems and travel warnings and Flickr Sudoku!

APIs, MASHUPS AND REMIXABILITY – collects and aggregates data similar to those above. It claims to be “The best free way to manage your money”, displays PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award, with approvals from Kiplinger’s Magazine “Best budgeting site” and Money Magazine “Top pick” with a four-star rating, and it is FREE.

According to the Terms of Use Agreement, the company is owned and operated by Intuit Inc. (the makers of Quicken). Quicken and QuickBooks accounting software has been in close competition with M.Y.O.B. software for many years. Web services on the site includes information, tools, features and functionality specifically for assisting the visitor or member in managing your budget, understanding investing, credit card advice, saving money, paying off debt, saving for retirement, spending less eating out, buying a car, getting ready for taxes, and a lot more.

To join you MUST provide with all your banking and investment log-in information. Consequently, you authorize and permit Mint “to use and store information submitted by you to the Service (such as account passwords and user names) to accomplish the foregoing and to configure the Service so that it is compatible with the third party sites for which you submit your information”…

(“Add a bank to start managing your money” +Add Account, and takes you through the following easy steps:

1 Find your bank > Enter your bank name: e.g. American Express

2 Enter Credentials > User ID for your American Express account > Password for your American Express account

3 Connect! >Press Add It and you’re all set. Mint only requires you to set up once. While you wait, add your credit cards, loans, and investments to get your net worth.)

In providing its users with the best advice via accessing financial information and data from third party sites, would Mint (or you) be breeching any other Terms of Service that prohibit these sites from sharing them with third parties? Needleman warns, “Sites that collect this information may be seen as encouraging breech of contract, which is a legal exposure.”

What of the future of APIs, mashups and remix in web development? According to the Mashup Feed website, there is an average of 2.88 mashups every day. A list of companies involved in the latest mashup product developments appears in an article by Dion Hinchcliffe entitled “Mashups turn into an industry as offerings mature”, in which he also adds that a number of new mashup standards have recently appeared.

More to follow… please stay tuned



Hinchcliffe, Dion (15 May 2008). Mashups Turn Into an Industry as Offerings Mature.

Mashup Feed (from the makers of Quicken)

Needleman, Rafe (Sept 2007). Legal Suicide for Web 2.0 start-ups: A beginner’s guide

Wikipedia – API

Wikipedia – mashup (web application hybrid)


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Slideshare example

I’m delighted to have just located an article entitled, “Why All the Fuss About Web 2.0?” by Dion Hinchcliffe in which he begins with, “Want to read a revolutionary document?” and the link takes you to a Slideshare presentation! The “Charting a Course for Transformation” Slideshare is about The White House’s open government initiative.

Dion Hinchcliffe is described as an “information technology industry analyst” and has written or co-written numerous books, blogs and articles encompassing the subject of Web 2.0.

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