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Catching up to Web 2.0

The experience of Jeff Barr, Amazon's Web services evangelist, shows how the IT industry usually manages to catch up with the hype it creates, even in the case of the Web.

Like many people, Barr sees the Web becoming a platform, allowing individual developers to take data from multiple sites to create fun new programs. In many ways, it's the promise of Web services finally delivered.

After Barr left Microsoft, he worked with a few venture capitalists around 2001 to talk about the future of Web services. The notion touted back then was that consumers and businesses would get and combine multiple Web services delivered over the Internet "cloud."

"When I saw what Amazon was up to (with Web services), all the cloudy pictures I had been drawing were actually reality," Barr said.

It's been a few years since the likes of Amazon, eBay and Google published their Web services APIs (application programming interfaces) and invited outsiders to build on top of their Web platforms. Now programmable Web sites are becoming more widespread, a change that unleashing all sorts of intriguing combinations, or "mash-ups." Some people call that Web 2.0.

The combination of customization tools like GreaseMonkey, public Web services, and better front-end Web development technologies add up to a different, more customizable Web. "That's the future I certainly look forward to," says Barr.