Topic 2.0 – What is Web 2.0?

14 07 2010

I am a little behind but I aim to catch up as soon as I can so without further ado, I present some of my initial thoughts on web 2.0.

Web 1.0

I think the simplest way to define what Web 2.0 is to me is to firstly define what Web 1.0 was to me. Web 1.0 was a simple relatively low band-width (by today’s standards) click and retrieve information distribution platform. For the most part the content principally consisted of static hard-coded HTML web pages that contained maybe some images but little by way of interactive elements and certainly minimal media content such as audio and video.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 does not appear to be a strict standard, but a term used as a catch-all for a group of application concepts delivered via the web. The key concepts are that Web 2.0 is dynamic, interactive and can be media rich. It’s often a simple web interface that sits on top of a database application that can perform some complex operations in the background. A web 2.0 application can even encourage interaction and engagement with others. Some sites employ business models that are built on this idea of social networking. There are Web 2.0 database applications that offer enormous catalogues of video (Vimeo, Youtube, etc.) others offer reference and informational content (Wikipedia), others offer social interaction (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin). They almost all however, share two major commonalities firstly in terms of technical architecture they consist of a private database application that is interacted with by a user via a public facing web interface; secondly the content provided is either wholly or partly provided by the public, everyday users of the Internet.

My only major issue with the notion of Web 2.0 is the idea that it sounds like it is new, the 2.0 carries an implication of new technology whereas it is anything but. The protocols are the same, the core technologies aren’t different, however it is the scale and source of the content that is different. Web 2.0 may not strictly be a web standard, but it has a use as a term that at one promotes the idea of interactive web applications on the Internet and; two, the concept of you as the principal source of the interactive content. However the idea of interactive applications is not entirely new, but the availability and scale of the interaction are unprecednted. Even seemingly modern concepts such as Cloud Computing’s hosted services may sound like the next thing but as we’ll see even this is not a new concept.

Cloud Computing or Web 3.0?

Software, storage, and data processing all delivered as a service via the internet, is the latest thing in computing, the marketing push behind this approach has labelled these kinds of services as cloud computing. It is sweeping through datacenters on a global scale. We have Microsoft offering its Azure and Live hosted services, Google has Google Apps and G-Mail and even Amazon (yes the on-line book store) has its EC2 services hosting platform. All of these firms are selling hosted services, vast banks of CPU, storage and data processing capabilities available to any organisation that can afford them. Yet even this is not a new idea.

The Network is the Computer.

From its early days Sun Microsystems (now a division of Oracle) has had the following as its motto ‘The network is the computer’. From 1996-2000 a consortium of major computer corporations (Sun Microsystems, IBM, etc.) created the concept of a ‘Network Computer’ a device that had no hard disk or much by way of local processing capability and was constructed from very cheap components. Data would be stored and processed remotely and applications delivered via similar means. The project however failed, for two reasons firstly the average consumer network connection at the time was a 28.8Kb/s dial-up affair, and secondly the applications were closed so interoperability between each competing Network Computer offering and the data stored remotely was non-existant. Bring the clock forward and now almost 15 years later we are talking about similar concepts, with one distinct advantage, we have more bandwidth available to us.

Old technical concepts have a very funny habit of being marketed to us as a new product. This is certainly true of the Internet age. But as we can see technology is evolutionary old ideas are presented in a modern context.  The simple click and retrieve functionality of the early Internet has been replaced by rich interactive applications, in much the same way that early computers offered primitive and then richer functionality. As we progress through to the next iteration of connected technology the very idea of what a computer is, is about to be challenged. Devices like the iPad are a glimpse of that time.

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Back and playing catch-up!

13 07 2010

Well it has deffinitely been quite a while, and judging from the list of activities covered in the on-line forum it’s been too long and I have some serious catch-up to do!

A Daring Dawn Raid! (Not Really)

Needless to say my wife has been broken out of hospital in a daring 10:00AM event involving self-discharge, a bar of choclate (we all need some energy afterall, daring break-outs require energy), and a somewhat mumbled cheery-bye to the medical staff from underneath a vast selection of backpacks and other assorted items. My wife is still not well, but this is one of the problems when dealing with a little known or understood disorder as such, the hospital had nothing left to offer.

The challenge now is to get back on track with Web 101, so I thought I’d start by posting a quick update note to my blog before I start tackling the discussion topic items to get back up to speed in further posts.

Busses

I apologise for my blog posts sharing the tedencies of a bus (waiting all day then two show up at once), I hope to rectify this in the coming days. Not to mention re-acquaint myself with the University forum.





In a Hospital

19 06 2010

Thats right, even mighty warriors such as Agamemn0n have to take some down time. Although it’s not me taking the downtime. Unfortunately my wife is in Hospital, and I’m writing this quick post from her bedside in hospital as she rests up.

So much to do, so little time

I haven’t had much opportunity to get into this weeks topic discussion. I have an assortment of notes, opinions, and badly constructed logic that I laughingly refer to as an observation that I will attempt to put together into a sort of cohesive narrative. It might come a little late but I will try to get something together when I’m next at home.

A Pain in the…. EVERYTHING

Pain is a difficult thing to quantify, yet alone manage. Needless to say you can’t gauge another person’s pain by looking at them. And pain is a difficult thing to describe. Especially when it is everywhere, a major part of the difficulty is the subjective nature of pain. Sometimes it can approach unmanagability and thats kinda where we are at present.

In the meantime fellow 101-er’s I wish you the best wit the coming topics, and the first assignment, and hope to get into it myself in a few days time. Oh, please feel free to post comments!

Ta-ra!





An Interesting Question!

14 06 2010

I was asked a really interesting question by one of my fellow Web101-er’s. I really enjoyed writing up my response to it, but its a bit long (to say the least) so I posted it here.

A brilliantly short question.

 just wondering if you can help me out (or anyone else out there) I understand packet switching etc etc however my brain wants to know the details of exactly how it knows where to send the messages – ie If I have a new computer and it has its ip address – what controls adding this to the network and informing it of where I am?  Is it a matter of just sending the message along its way and if it hits a computer that doesn’t have the correct address it travels to the next one?  I haven’t explained this very well.  When the packets are sent to their destination, how do they know which road to take?  What creates the ‘maps’ of every IP address?

A stupidly lengthy reply!

I’m definitely not a network engineer, but I know enough about the technology to setup and configure a basic network. But for such a small question it asks for a lot of info so it has taken a while for me to type this up!

Some networks are a little more complicated they may have more computers, or routers, and may even comprise of multiple networks. Generally most home setups are pretty straightforward, and this is in no small way down to the modern router/modem.

In the early days, a modem was simply that, a device that had one single function. You instructed it to connect, and it would try to connect. These days’ routers are very sophisticated, and perform a vast array of functions some of which might seem surprising. But the most distinguishing feature is that most of them have two communications interfaces. In the case of an ADSL modem, one interface is attached to your phone line, and the other is attached to your home network. This is an important distinction to make, because it is the routers job to allow traffic to flow from one network to the other. So let’s break down what this device does from the moment you turn it on .

  • Start its Operating System.

It’s amazing to think, but most of these devices have their own operating system. Most of the consumer class routers sold tend to run a version of Linux modified for the task. Cisco who mainly sell to corporations have their own Operating System called IOS.

  • Start its Network Interfaces and switch (if it has one)

This usually happens pretty instantly, but it may be a minute or so before the router has finished starting its operating system. But it’s the services that a modern router runs that make it so unique.

  • Start its services

Remember when I said that a modern router is a bit more complicated these days? This is where it gets complex. Most modern routers contain a number of ‘server’ applications, they are small scale but are not that much different from their bigger counterparts. I’ll delve into a few of the key services.

  Read the rest of this entry »





Topic 1.1 – What is the Internet

11 06 2010

The internet is a global network of computers that receive process and transmit data on a globally connected packet-switched network. It is open to the public for use. The network comprises of client computing devices, server devices, router devices and a number of communications technologies ranging from cables, to wireless radio and satellite connections. All of the attached devices access the internet using the TCP/IP protocol ipv4 however this protocol is changing to ipv6 due to the limitations of the available address space.

Built on top of this communications network are applications that deliver web sites, news groups, distributed computing, low cost voice call and video conferencing, chat and instant messaging, e-mail, games, video-on-demand, DNS, Internet Radio and many other services. Many of these applications are also dependent upon each other.

Underpinning our web activities is the DNS service which comprises (as far as I can determine) 13 root servers that contain the domain name directory. When your computer accesses a website by domain name it creates a lookup request that ultimately is sourced from one of the 13 domain root servers. This service translates friendly names like news.com.au into the public routable IP address (xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx) that the web browser actually connects to. The DNS service also underpins SSL encryption technologies that enable your web browser to verify and validate the identity of a web site against its list of trusted root certificates.

Most of our interactions with the internet take place in our web browsers, and this leads to the mistaken belief that the web is in fact the internet, as opposed to the web merely being an application that runs on top of a distributed network. In fact if we were to consider an application as being representative of the network, then it would be more accurate to state that the internet is e-mail irrespective of the validity of the messages sent.

Indeed, so ubiquitous is the web browser that interactions with other services take place via it. If one were to visit a web site of a radio station and access its on-line stream, your browser can automatically start the application that is required to playback the stream so that you can hear it. Playing back this stream is not necessarily a function of the web browser; it is more likely that this is being done by an application that is designed to play that type of audio stream.

In conclusion the internet is a digital distributed communications network that comprises servers, client computing devices routers and various communications technologies that interact with applications principally hosted by servers. Client devices access those applications via the packet switched network using locally stored applications that access and process the content, streams or data that  the end user wishes to consume.





Topic 1.0 – Whats in a name?

3 06 2010

Indeed

What is in a name, the first topic of web101 deals with the contentious issue of dealing with usernames. Should it be personal? Should it be identifiable? Should it be cultural, or historical? The explorations of the questions in my case is far more interesting than the answers.

The basic problem I have always had with the internet and ‘putting information out there’ is the somewhat semi-permenant nature of Social Networking services, even those of blogs like WordPress, which are in no way as privacy invasive as facebook, but they still have their own profile of categorisation products and targetted adverts.

So what is in a name for me? I like a name to draw attention because it is interesting in and off itself. The function is simply a means to host a ‘self’ on the web and I have many of those. The gamer self, the cycling self, the student self and each with its own qualities and characteristics.

Anonymity

Anonymity is not something that you can truly achieve on the net, but there are tools available that assist with this to a degree, needless to say they vary in sophistication, practicality, and more importantly applicability. However the most basic of tools available is the selection of a name.

Antiquity

I gravitate towards historical figures, of ancient times. Not because of religiosity or any personal cultural reasons (in fact the further removed from my own culture the better). No it is for obscurity and the likelihood that such names are unlikely to be registered where I wish to use them.

For the sake of uniformity, I have created a new name, if not entirely a new self for the educational venture I have chosn, suffice to say I am Agamemn0n and pleased to make your acquaintance. Over the coming weeks more will be forthcoming, entries, deletions, coffee, toasted bacon sandwhiches and perhaps the odd photo with a chariot dileberately in-expertly photoshopped in for good measure. For me the journey is the interesting part.