My cow-orker Jason Steinhorn has lept ahead to Web 4.0.1. Here are my initial thoughts on his ideas.
I think a key take-away is that big web companies with large data stores shouldn’t focus on creating one giant web site application.
Instead, they should make a number of applications that layer on top of their platform powered using the unique information and processing capabilities they have. Each application takes from and contributes back to a different, but complimentary, set of data.
[Insert cool picture here with overlapping circles]
I think Yahoo! does the best job of this on the Web right now. Some of their new services blend together more pieces than just their shared authentication system. (I really like the Travel Trip Planner site.)
This allows you to build up a larger and more robust data store that hits many segments of the population. If you just build the “it’s right for the middle 80%” application, you can get large, but you miss the long-tail of data. (Drink.)
The best way for this to happen is for that company to think of itself as another developer on the platform. Maybe not a co-equal developer, but a developer with benefits, so to speak. This helps ensure your platform is designed in a flexible and scalable manner — because you’ll be eating your own dog food — and you’ll be annoyed when your platform is a limiting factor.
Yet, at the same time, you’ll also be enabling others to build first class applications on the system — the key part of a vibrant platform — all of which contribute back to the data store. And, as Tim O’Reilly says, “Data is the Intel Inside of Web 2.0″.
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