The Exploit of Web 2.0

In a recent discussion with a fellow blogger on Writely, an online word processor, I felt that some things are being taken for granted, or some assumptions are being made when assuming that an online word processor can completely replace its desktop counterpart.

Here are some of my thoughts regarding this:

  • We are assuming availability of a good and continuous Internet connection when we are trying to replace a desktop word processor with an online one. A good Internet connection is still expensive, especially when at lot of places the connection is limited by download size and/or bandwidth.
  • Writing documents is a everyday and a common activity, it should not be restricted by adding a dependency to an Internet connection.
  • A lot of documents in businesses are discussed, reviewed and modified. This requires a good version control system so that the intermediate versions can be saved and rolledback to. Nowadays, tracking changes and version control support is offered by offline office suites. Although Writely supports this, much better support is lent by corporate intranets and document routing/sharing systems.
  • Writely is made for collaboration and sharing. Security will still be a concern when confidential documents are written. And quite a lot of them are written in the business world.
  • There are some features that not well supoprted at Writely, e.g., templates, which are used by users for different documents. One more feature missing is that Writely, today, is just a Word processor. When writing documents, references to other types of documents like presentations, spreadsheets, drawings is a common thing.
  • Individuals get easy access to Microsoft Works/Microsoft Office/OpenOffice/KOffice/NeoOffice and multitude of other office suites when desktops/laptops are bought. Document preparation systems like LaTeX are also easily available.

Having said this, Writely does offer value. In my opinion, its value is more in collaboration and sharing rather than the word processing. Ability to subscribe to the same document will definitely help people who are always on the move. Its support to OpenDocument format and easy conversion to multiple formats is commendable. That is why I think it is an excellent supplement to the desktop office suite, but not a replacement.

On more thought, this can be extended and applied to the popular concept of Web 2.0. Is Web 2.0 trying to push the desktop out? Or is it expected to? I had registered my doubts about similarities in dumb terminals and thin-clients. This would mean that chip makers should now avoid making better processors for individual machines, as there can be vanilla machines requiring lower resources with everything else on the Internet. Along with this the operating systems makers should also provide a raw version, as there are even web based desktop systems. Why is there still so much interest in Microsoft Windows Vista getting delayed or the recent developments in desktop managers like KDE and GNOME?

There is some talk about the upcoming Bubbles (via GigaOM) project which is a bridge between web and desktop. I my opinion attempt should be to make web an extension of the desktops, that will give optimum benefits.

Of course no one can argue the applicaton of Web 2.0 with stuff like maps and blogs going great, but is it’s real exploit to out do the desktops or add on to them? I wonder.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Naveed Chaudhry said:

    Seems like you might have a writely invitation that i am very interested in. If you can please send me one at the address on this post.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    :-), I am not critical of Writely, and I am using it for certain things. As mentioned in the article, I use it as a supplement, not as a replacement of my office suite. I don’t have any additional invites, so I can’t send one.

  3. Abhijit Nadgouda @ iface » Portable Apps said:

    […] With the new Web 2.0 hype, focus seems to have been shifted away from desktop applications. Portable apps and Web are not in the same league but they offer some common advantages, especially of being portable across computers. Perhaps a comparison with the web based desktop managers is more justifiable. The biggest advantage of the Web is that it is independent of even the operating system of the computer you are using. The portable apps offer the advantage of being able to work on multiple computers without an Internet/network connection. Both have their places, and are probably not directly against each other. In my opinion, portable applications can satisfy lot of cases and offer better value where the Web adds a dependency of an Internet connection. […]

  4. Abhijit Nadgouda @ iface » The Notion Of Web 2.0 said:

    […] I am not sure if Web 2.0 is competing with the desktop, I personally don’t think it can happen. The web is an extension of the desktop and should be used so, but elevating the quality in web can result in better collaboration between the two. […]

  5. iface thoughts » Blog Archive » Browsered or Webified Applications said:

    […] I had expressed my dissent over embracing Web for all tasks and have wondered if this trend is driving us back to the future of mainframes. The problem with using the Web for everything is that the network availability is being taken for granted. Will all due respect to the city-wide WiFis, there a lot of areas in the world where Internet access is not very convenient or affordable and this questions its basic usability. With the web-based operating environments or office suites, we are making the Web a mandatory factor in our critical tasks. What happens when I want to edit the document in a vehicle or when my network goes down because of some problems out of my control? As against this, my desktop is in my control. An even more ridiculous thing is that all these functionalities are already available for the desktops, including free and open source versions. […]

  6. My 2007 Prediction And Happy New Year on iface thoughts said:

    […] My wish, not prediction is that desktops should be more utilised. Not only should Web applications flourish, even the desktop should be fully utilised. I had put down my reasoning earlier. Web is still not as convenient as the desktop, there are many more connecting points on which we need to depend, and so many more points of failure. I wish that more and more desktop applications will connect with the Web rather than more Web applications trying to compete with the desktop. […]

  7. The Notion Of Web 2.0 on iface thoughts said:

    […] am not sure if Web 2.0 is competing with the desktop, I personally don’t think it can happen. The web is an extension of the desktop and should be […]

  8. More Options For Posting To Wordpress | iface thoughts said:

    […] on the Web and lets remix content from multiple sources. A hybrid model, something that I always preferred, can help in improving blogging. Not only blogging, this can help in various Web publishing […]

  9. Live Documents From India | iface thoughts said:

    […] others do not – integration with an offline office suite. I think an online office suite should complement the offline one, not replace it. The bad part of it is that it seems to be made for and only for Microsoft Office. […]

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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