commentary The Web 2.0 movement offers more than just vacuous buzzwords and inflated stock prices, writes Asher Moses.
You've probably heard the term 'Web 2.0' bandied about in the mainstream press over the past six months (if not, you'd do well to read this Wikipedia entry). With abhorrent memories of the original Web 1.0 boom and eventual bust of the late 90s still far from fading, it's not surprising to see that many are already dismissing Web 2.0 as just another hyped up buzzword. This may or may not be true -- time will most definitely tell -- but a host of products have arisen from the second wave of World Wide Web development that, if nothing else, are a boon for the office telecommuter.
A pivotal theme of the Web 2.0 movement is a monumental shift in our most used applications -- e-mail, word processing, calendar, spreadsheet manipulation, photo storage and even bookmark handling -- from the desktop to the Web. The immediate benefit of this for the home office user is that, rather than having all of your data stored on a single PC in the office (one that's inevitably prone to crashing without prior notice); all of your important data is stored online.
Ultimately, the result is unparalleled flexibility in how and where you work. Want to append a document from home during your morning coffee binge, or make last minute changes from your laptop on the commute to work? No problem -- all you need is an Internet connection. Forget the drawn out and often flaky process of synching your devices every time you switch machines, and if you're going somewhere without an Internet connection, simply download your files and re-upload the appended versions later. The best part? Most Web 2.0 services are free!
We won't even pretend to have used even a fraction of the Web 2.0 services available to you -- there are 136, according to Listible -- but we've sampled a fair few and certainly liked what we saw. GMail's clean interface and threaded sorting system is great for e-mail; Writely is a surprisingly effective word processor; 30Boxes is a superb online calendar; Num Sum is a decent spreadsheet application despite lacking some features; Flickr is ideal for sorting, searching and sharing your photos; and Del.icio.us enables you to store and categorise your bookmarks for access from any PC with an Internet connection.
Microsoft's stranglehold on your home office is most definitely loosening, and the Web browser is fast replacing the good ol' operating system as the basis of your personal computing experience. All that's required now is a single service to tie all of the above applications together in a common interface and we'll be in Web 2.0 nirvana.
Have you jumped off the Microsoft Office bandwagon and moved any of your applications online? Have your say below!