You ever wonder how to monetize the long tail? Or how to realize cyberinfrastructure? Hopefully you have no idea what I’m talking about, which means you’re thankfully naive to the politics of academic supercomputing and the hyper-fluff of over-paid business leaders “revving the web” at this years Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.
I realized from day one I was out of my element, talk of business models and ad placement left me wondering whether academic politics aren’t such a bad thing after all. But are these worlds really that far apart?
Amidst the pretenders and the venture capital monkeys the Web 2.0 conference brought together a collection of like-minded individuals with one cohesive idea: the web as an application platform.
Academics have been pushing this idea for years, albeit in a backwards and borderline retarded method of grid portals and high-latency web services. User experience is an almost alien concept in academia, leaving would-be web portals in a state of chaos and such poor usability that they’re… well… unusable.
Based on my completely unscientific and haphazard estimate, the private sector has been pushing further and faster than academia that it’s at least a few years ahead of academic research projects (especially when it comes to deploying web services and web applications). The idea of REST, RSS, ATOM, AJAX or even CSS are strangely missing from academic projects who are currently pushing such hot new technologies such as SOAP, WSDL, and the ever successful JSR-168.
Hopefully, you’re spending your thoughts on more important topics such as the flying spaghetti monster, but I’ve been up at night wondering why academic web applications are so disparate from their private sector counterparts.
The industry leaders at Web 2.0 may be motivated by money, but they’re inventing their way to successful business models based on technological innovation; building and integrating web services in novel applications creating new levels of connectedness and information sharing; something sorely lacking in mainstream academia.
So what do we do about it? We do what everyone (including Microsoft) is doing: we watch Google and copy everything they do!