3 computer acronyms explained so you can fight the geeks in your IT Department

Web 2.0 = SAAS = RIA*

As a service to all my loyal non-geek users that have these things foisted upon them by loving and caring IT Departments here's my take on what they are!


Web 2.0 (Wikipedia)
Web 2.0This is the granddaddy of modern computer acronyms and as such has changed from it's initial meaning (geek related) to now encapsulate a wider and non-technology specific definition.

I now define it as:
An approach to collaboration/connectedness based upon a spirit of openness, sharing and participation incorporating people, culture and the Web generating collective intelligence* by utilising the power of the network edges**.
It is loosely connected with technologies such as blogs, RSS, wiki's and tagging.
* Collective intelligence - the true power of crowds, community or ya mates

**
Network edges - the power has always been at the end of the network (those that actually create/do the work) and this approach shifts the 'control' from the centre out.
Example - letting music artists sell their work direct to the punters without having to use the 'command-and-control' of the central


I define it as an "approach" because it is much more than just Web sites with large fonts, beta labels and an RSS feed - in my mind Stuff.co.nz isn't a Web 2.0 site because, even though it may look it and have feeds, it operates under a culture of 'closed content' - "this is ours and we want to control it!"

The Web 2.0 culture is therefore key (defining?) to a site being labeled as such.

A subsidiary of this is "Enterprise 2.0" (Wikipedia) which is the area of the world I work in - in essence bringing the culture and technology of Web 2.0 inside organisations.
The best summary of this is Dion Hinchcliffe's A checkpoint on Web 2.0 in the enterprise (part 1) article.


SaaS - Software as a Service (Wikipedia)
SaaS - Software as a ServiceIn a nutshell using the web (browser) to run applications that organisations think they need - meetings (eg, GoToMeeting), CRM (Wikipedia, eg SalesForce.com), time sheeting (eg, OpenAir), accounts (eg, Xero) ...

Whilst SaaS isn't true Web 2.0 there is a large amount of crossover from the more modern applications that are bringing in the "Web 2.0" components/spirit. For instance there are a few online word processing tools (in essence browser-based Microsoft Word clones, eg AjaxWrite) but there's also ones that work in a more open/collaborative manner (eg, Google Docs).

It almost has the feel that corporates needed a different name than "Web 2.0" as that's all that silly stuff the kids are doing with their YouToob and Faceback!

The more common use of "Web 2.0" within SaaS is to enable RSS feeding of information - a relatively simple item from a technology point of view but quite a large step from the 'the info lives and dies within the application'.


RIA -Rich Internet Application (Wikipedia)
Google Maps: Fronde Wellington officeBefore the new fancy ways of delivering information to/from the web we were stuck with either using the browser to read info and/or client apps (things running on the computer) that connected using the Internet network but really were just another PC-type application.

Then browsers got fancier!
It wasn't just one page at a time, the browser could do stuff there and then - you could ask for something and the web page could go off and do it - no reload.

All very geeky until along came Gmail popularising this development approach that had become known as AJAX (Wikipedia).

And so that's all RIA means - fancy browser run applications that give a much richer, fuller experience to the user.

There are a few popular ways of doing it with more coming but we don't need to concern our pretty heads about that, we just know that it's enabling our PC-type apps to migrate up onto the web and now I can watch TV, edit videos, crop pictures, let you work out the distance between where I am and where you are and do everything else I could do on a PC on the web via a browser**

Long gone are the days when I'd hear, "Yeah, but the browser can't do ....." - anyone that says that now-a-days is living in the past, hooked to the PC via an umbilical cord or to slow to see past the end of their nose.
I hate hearing, you can't do that in a browser! It's just software, we can make it do whatever we want
Robert O'Callahan (Firefox developer) at Wellington mini-Webstock

* Well, they don't actually '=' each other and are certainly interchangeable to a large degree.
** The browser may need some help using add-ons ... don't worry, it'll work it out for itself and guide you through what it has to do
*** YouTube picture to prove that guys look at crutches more than girls!

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