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November 15, 2006



Wow... how old is this rant getting? Almost as old as everyone calling everything Web 2.0.

Look, Web 2.0 is an annoying term, no doubt. But your conclusion are mostly dead wrong.

You say: "We are just at the tail end of the fascination phase with AJAX and Web 2.0 technologies."

No we're not. Just like we've not had Java technology end. It just has found its groove. When the web was new, there was a ton of business ideas as people tried out the new medium. Some failed, some didn't. Pets.com proved that people don't care about buying dog food online, while amazon proved they do like buying books and DVDs online.

You say that software development hasn't changed at all with the "Web 2.0" stuff. Bull. Starting a business based on tech has never been easier or cheaper. Maintaining a business might not be different than before, but getting into the web business game is the best its ever been.

At the end of the post you talk about what you want - how in the hell do you think we get there?? Do you think that *poof* everything is advanced and new and better? If that *poof* moment happens, do you think that non-techies will instantly jump on board, welcoming revolutionary change without any hesitation??

Yeah, right.

You were around in the early days of the internet - remember trying to convince your parents to surf, much less put their credit card online? Doing basic things like adding tagging is part of the evolution of users changing their usage habits, becoming more comfortable doing things like plugging in their credit cards, participating in the social connection aspects, meeting people online (leading to offline), etc.

Remember when online dating had a horrible stigma? How's that today? How many of the early dating sites are still big today? On the basis of your premise, since the early implementations of dating sites aren't around, online dating failed. Yeah, right.

Bigger picture, man. Bigger picture.


There's definitely a lot of undeserved hype when it comes to Web 2.0 - how many sites are there now that take a word ending with "-er" and just drop the "e"? ranchr.com still seems to be available.

However, there is a significant change in how web sites are developed today than they were several years ago. Simplicity and standards are emphasized much more heavily than they were, mainly because AJAX is much easier to work with if your page is "clean". Designers are now trained to create pages where content and presentation are separated - I consider that to be part of Web 2.0 as well. The CSS Zen Garden shows how that's done. Unobtrusive Javascript is another step forward in a similar vein. All of these changes help pave the way for the semantic web - we're at a point where there doesn't need to be any difference between the human-readable web page and the machine-readable data resource. It's just a matter of widespread adoption (which Web 2.0 is helping to move along), and then moving on to the semantic web will simply be a matter of a couple of tweaks to the standards we already have.


p.s. I didn't even get to how marketing companies (and politicians) have reinvented themselves to use viral techniques to keep up with the social networking trends. The effects go beyond the web.

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Nova's Trip to Edge of Space

  • Stepsedgestratosphere
    In 1999 I flew to the edge of space with the Russian air force, with Space Adventures. I made it to an altitude of just under 100,000 feet and flew at Mach 3 in a Mig-25 piloted by one of Russia's best test-pilots. These pics were taken by Space Adventures from similar flights to mine. I didn't take digital stills -- I got the whole flight on digital video, which was featured on the Discovery Channel.

Nova & Friends, Training For Space...

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    In 1999 I was invited to Russia as a guest of the Russian Space Agency to participate in zero-gravity training on an Ilyushin-76 parabolic flight training aircraft. It was really fun!!!! Among other people on that adventure were Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize and Zero-G Corporation), Bijal Trivedi (a good friend of mine, science journalist), and "Lord British" (creator of the Ultima games). Here are some pictures from that trip...


People I Like

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    Mayer Spivack is my father; he's a brilliant inventor, cognitive scientist, sculptor, designer and therapist. He also builds carbon fiber trimarans in his spare time, and studies animal intelligence. He is working on several theories related to the origins of violence and ways to prevent it, new treatments for learning disabilities, and new theories of cognition. He doesn't have a Web site yet, but I'm working on him...
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    Marin Spivack is my brother. He is the one of the only western 20th generation lineage holders of the original Chen Family Tai Chi tradition in China. He's been practicing Tai Chi for about 6 to 10 hours a day for the last 10 years and is now one of the best and most qualified Tai Chi teachers in America. He just returned from 3 years in China studying privately with a direct descendant of the original Chen family that created Tai Chi. The styles that he teaches are mainly secret and are not known or taught in the USA. One thing is for sure, this is not your grandmother's Tai Chi: This is serious combat Tai Chi -- the original, authentic Tai Chi, not the "new age" form that is taught in the USA -- it's intense, physically-demanding, fast, powerful and extremely deadly. If you are serious about Tai Chi and want to learn the authentic style and applications, the way it was meant to be, you should study with my brother. He's located in Boston these days but also travels when invited to teach master classes.
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    Kris has been working with me for years on the design of the Radar Networks software, a new platform for the Semantic Web. He has a PhD from the MIT Media Lab. He designs intelligent humanoids and virtual realities. He is from Iceland, which makes him pretty cool.
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    Adam Cohen is a long-term friend; we were roommates in college. He is a really talented composer and film-scorer. He doesn't have a Web site but I like him anyway! He's in Hollywood living the dream.
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