A little while ago Janne Jalkanen asked me if I’d partner up with him to create a Finnish-language podcast about the second generation of the Web. I thought it’d be a good idea especially since Finland is strong on mobile, and mobility and the Web are now starting to integrate in cool new ways.
This week I was over at Tim O’Reilly‘s house in Sebastopol, so I asked Tim for an interview for the podcast and he agreed. I recorded the podcast while we were unwinding in the hot tub.
Update: my iPod didn’t save the audio file. Either I did something wrong or it’s a problem with the disk or the Belkin mic/software.
Everyone in the O’Reilly family is doing something interesting: Tim’s wife Christine is writing and directing a play that will debut in August; their daughter Arwen is a brilliant editor at Make: and Arwen’s younger sister has a band, Feathers Family, whose album was recently reviewed in the Rolling Stone. Tim himself is a unique mix of hippie and entrepreneur. If you don’t know Tim, read Steven Levy’s short piece about him in Wired.
The most interesting part of the interview was Tim’s vision about the future of the Web. Tim’s vision has slightly evolved since the publication of his canonical Web 2.0 article. The top three blips on his radar right now are business applications, multiple devices, and virtual worlds.
Tim’s main argument is that the Web (and the internet more broadly) should be understood as one single plaftorm the same way that Windows is a platform for the desktop. The applications that succeed are the ones that extend the platform by adding some capability to it that was previously missing. The applications that fail are the silos that don’t share their data.
Up until now, online business applications have been mainly silos. But the platform logic extends to them too. In Tim’s view it doesn’t matter if your networked application plays music or does inventory management – it’s more fit to survive if other applications depend on it. That’s why he believes the B2B field is going to get Web 2.0-ified over the next couple of years.
The second point is multiple devices. For example, Tim uses a device that displays the real-time Bay Area traffic data. He could get the same information on his smartphone but the single-purpose device is more convenient. As the price of memory and wireless connectivity drops, Tim predicts we’ll see more handheld devices that deliver an optimized ready-to-hand experience for online applications.
The third point is virtual worlds. Virtual worlds are changing from games to “places”. We’re already seeing this in Second Life and Google’s release of SketchUp takes this to the next level by enabling people to place 3D models in Google Earth. You can show up at the virtual place or the physical location. For instance, Make: Magazine has an area in Second Life, and according to Tim, when someone shows up there, Senior Editor Phil Torrone gets a ping telling him who’s there.