table of numbers and as a histogram).
Similarly, a multimodal view of a page,
supporting both visual and spoken interaction, is also just one more type of
view-to-view mashup. Bringing all this
together, we can pose the question:
What is the size of this Web to come? In
theory, we can combine arbitrary subsets of W using the techniques I’ve outlined here. Each combination can in
turn be deployed on the Web by making it URL-addressable and expressed
+ + +…+ = 2|W|
a total Perspective
This number 2|W| is extremely large
and growing quickly as we build on
the success of the Web; here, I denote
this set 2. Fans of Douglas Adams’s
Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy1 probably feel like they are now well entrapped within the total perspective
vortex. But just as in the case of Za-phod Beeblebrox, the solution is not
to focus on the totality of the Web but
instead on the individual; 2 exists for
the user. As we move to a highly personalized social Web, each element of
2 exists as it is perceived and used by
a given user.
A significant portion of our social
interaction increasingly happens via
the Web. Note that a large portion of
the impetus for the move from Web 1.0
to Web 2.0 and later to the predicted
2 is due to user needs; aggregations,
projections, and mashups are all a direct consequence of the user’s need to
consume information in a form that
is most suited to a given task. Though
the resulting set 2 might be immense,
most of these elements are relevant
only when used by at least one user.
Users do not use Web artifacts in a
vacuum, but in a given environment or
evaluation context provided by a given
Web content when combined is far
more useful than its individual components. Likewise, Web applications
used by collaborating users create a
far richer experience than would be
possible if they were used by users in
isolation. Users typically converge on
the use of such artifacts via popular
Web containers, making the various
APIs available by a given container a
key distinguishing factor with respect
to the types of interactions enabled
within the environment. For example, OpenSocial from Google (code.
describes itself as “many sites, one
API,” defines a set of APIs that can be
implemented within a Web container.
These APIs then expose a common set
of services to gadgets being hosted
within the container. Likewise, the
Facebook platform provides an API
for developing gadgets to be hosted in
the Facebook container, 20 which can
provide access to a user’s contact list,
enabling the various gadgets within it
to provide an integrated end-user experience.
The Web has evolved from global hypertext system to distributed platform
for end-user interaction. Users access it
from a variety of devices and rely on late
binding of the user interface to produce
a user experience that is best suited to
a given usage context. With data moving from individual devices to the Web
cloud, users today have ubiquitous access to their data. The separation of the
user interface from the data being presented enables them to determine how
they interact with the data. With data
and interaction both becoming URL-addressable, the Web is now evolving
toward enabling users to come together to collaborate in ad-hoc groups that
can be created and dismantled with
minimal overhead. Thus, a movement
that started with the creation of three
simple building blocks—URL, HTTP,
HTML—has evolved into the one platform that binds them all.
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T.V. Raman ( email@example.com) is a research scientist
at google research, Mountain view, ca.
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