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Ajit Jaokar's Mobile Web 2.0 Blog: What is "Mobile Web 2.0"?

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent Web or 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence'

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or ‘Harnessing Collective Intelligence.' Mobile Web 2.0 extends the principle of 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence' to restricted devices. The seemingly simple idea of extending Web 2.0 to mobile Web 2.0 has many facets, for instance:


a) What is a restricted device?
b) What are the implications of extending the web to restricted devices?
c) As devices become creators and not mere consumers of information – what categories of intelligence can be captured/harnessed from restricted devices?
d) What is the impact for services as devices start using the web as a massive information repository and the PC as a local cache where services can be configured?

 
Restricted devices: A broad definition of a ‘restricted device’ is not easy. The only thing they all have in common is - ‘they are battery driven’. But then – watches have batteries?

A better definition of restricted devices can be formulated by incorporating Barbara Ballard’s carry principle. Thus, a restricted device could now be deemed as: 

a) Carried by the user
b) Battery driven
c) Small (by definition)
d) Probably multifunctional but with a primary focus
e) A device with limited input mechanisms (small keyboard)
f) Personal and personalised BUT
g) Not wearable (that rules out the watch!). But, there is a caveat, a mobile device in the future could be wearable and it's capacities may well be beyond what we imagine today. The input mechanism in the future will not be a key stroke on such devices, but a movement or sound. So, this is an evolving definition.

Finally, there is a difference between a ‘carried’ device and a ‘mobile device which is in a vehicle’.

For example – in a car, a GPS navigator is a ‘mobile device’ and in a plane, the in-flight entertainment screen is also ‘mobile’. However, both these devices are not ‘carried by a person’ and do not have the same screen/power restrictions as devices that are carried by people.

However, whichever way you look at it, it's clear that the mobile phone is an example of a restricted device. From now on – we use the definition of mobile devices interchangeably with ‘restricted devices’ and the meaning will be clearer in the context.

Extending the web to restricted devices:  It may seem obvious - but Web 2.0 is all about the ‘web’  because Web 2.0 could not have been possible without the web. Thus, in a ‘pure’ definition – Web 2.0 is about ‘harnessing collective intelligence via the web’. When we extend this definition to ‘mobile Web 2.0’ – there are two implications:

a) The web does not necessarily extend to mobile devices
b) Even though the web does not extend to mobile devices, intelligence can still be captured from mobile devices.

The seven principles of Web 2.0 speak of this accurately when they discuss the example of the ipod/iTunes. The ipod uses the web as a back end and the PC as a local cache. In this sense, the service is ‘driven by the web and configured at the PC’ but it is not strictly a ‘web’ application because it is not driven by web protocols end to end(ipod protocols are proprietary to Apple).

Thus, the characteristics(distinguishing principles) of mobile Web 2.0 are:

a) Harnessing collective intelligence through restricted devices i.e. a two way flow where people carrying devices become reporters rather than mere consumers
b) Driven by the web backbone – but not necessarily based on the web protocols end to end
c) Use of the PC as a local cache/configuration mechanism where the service will be selected and configured

Another way to look at this idea is to consider what is NOT mobile Web 2.0. ‘Broadcast’ content generated by the media industry which users are passively expected to consume: is not mobile Web 2.0. That includes most ringtones, most games, movie clips etc. Anything which does not have a user generated component. Of course, I welcome your comments on this topic.

 
Restricted devices: A broad definition of a ‘restricted device’ is not easy. The only thing they all have in common is - ‘they are battery driven’. But then – watches have batteries?

A better definition of restricted devices can be formulated by incorporating Barbara Ballard’s carry principle. Thus, a restricted device could now be deemed as: 

a) Carried by the user
b) Battery driven
c) Small (by definition)
d) Probably multifunctional but with a primary focus
e) A device with limited input mechanisms (small keyboard)
f) Personal and personalised BUT
g) Not wearable (that rules out the watch!). But, there is a caveat, a mobile device in the future could be wearable and it's capacities may well be beyond what we imagine today. The input mechanism in the future will not be a key stroke on such devices, but a movement or sound. So, this is an evolving definition.

Finally, there is a difference between a ‘carried’ device and a ‘mobile device which is in a vehicle’.

For example – in a car, a GPS navigator is a ‘mobile device’ and in a plane, the in-flight entertainment screen is also ‘mobile’. However, both these devices are not ‘carried by a person’ and do not have the same screen/power restrictions as devices that are carried by people.

However, whichever way you look at it, it's clear that the mobile phone is an example of a restricted device. From now on – we use the definition of mobile devices interchangeably with ‘restricted devices’ and the meaning will be clearer in the context.

Extending the web to restricted devices:  It may seem obvious - but Web 2.0 is all about the ‘web’  because Web 2.0 could not have been possible without the web. Thus, in a ‘pure’ definition – Web 2.0 is about ‘harnessing collective intelligence via the web’. When we extend this definition to ‘mobile Web 2.0’ – there are two implications:

a) The web does not necessarily extend to mobile devices
b) Even though the web does not extend to mobile devices, intelligence can still be captured from mobile devices.

The seven principles of Web 2.0 speak of this accurately when they discuss the example of the ipod/iTunes. The ipod uses the web as a back end and the PC as a local cache. In this sense, the service is ‘driven by the web and configured at the PC’ but it is not strictly a ‘web’ application because it is not driven by web protocols end to end(ipod protocols are proprietary to Apple).

Thus, the characteristics(distinguishing principles) of mobile Web 2.0 are:

a) Harnessing collective intelligence through restricted devices i.e. a two way flow where people carrying devices become reporters rather than mere consumers
b) Driven by the web backbone – but not necessarily based on the web protocols end to end
c) Use of the PC as a local cache/configuration mechanism where the service will be selected and configured

Another way to look at this idea is to consider what is NOT mobile Web 2.0. ‘Broadcast’ content generated by the media industry which users are passively expected to consume: is not mobile Web 2.0. That includes most ringtones, most games, movie clips etc. Anything which does not have a user generated component. Of course, I welcome your comments on this topic.

More Stories By Ajit Jaokar

Ajit Jaokar is the author of the book 'Mobile Web 2.0' and is also a member of the Web2.0 workgroup. Currently, he plays an advisory role to a number of mobile start-ups in the UK and Scandinavia. He also works with the government and trade missions of a number of countries including South Korea and Ireland. He is a regular speaker at SYS-CON events including AJAXWorld Conference & Expo.

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Most Recent Comments
Sunny 04/15/08 08:22:57 AM EDT

Got to see this article on Web 2.0 & thought of penning down some thoughts on my mind.

I personally think that Web 2.0 has tremendous potential in India. This statement is not a over-dose of boasting as i strongly believe that there a lot of potential in making our systems go web.

Be it anything from jobs to house search everything is easy when you have internet. In fact, i got across http://www.ninthcafe.com which seems to be doing the job really well. I am pretty confident that WEb 2.0 will make its mark in India.

http://www.ninthcafe.com

Ajit Jaokar 07/29/06 08:31:47 AM EDT

Hi Leonard
Many thanks for your kind insights and apologies for the slightly delayed response. I shall get Barbara Ballard to give some more insights here. I agree to your view that wearable devices are also 'mobile'. Shall update that definition to include it. Many thanks for your feedback. kind rgds Ajit

Leonard Low 07/27/06 08:05:23 PM EDT

Hi Ajit,

I'm interested in your perspectives, but I'm unsure of the term "restricted device" (all the devices you provide as examples seem to highly enabled, rather than restricted). Could you please explain, or provide a link to, a definition or context for this term?

Also, I'm not so sure about your application of the Carry Principle... indeed, I'm a little uncertain about the validity of the Carry Principle at all in some respects, and perhaps you can help my understanding of it.

The Carry Principle appears to draw a distinction between "Information Appliances" and "Carried Devices", viz: "Devices which are always carried, such as mobile phones, can not be mass-market information appliances..." This relies on a narrow definition of an Information Appliance as a device that performs "a small set of tasks very well..."

However, the official Wikipedia entry for Jef Raskin's "Information Appliance" provides specific examples of devices which are always carried, including Smartphones and PDAs. It seems that either the Carry Principle is based on a flawed interpretation of the term "Information Appliances", or the Wikipedia entry itself is misleading or incorrect.

Given that carried devices tend to have an increasing amount of functionality incorporated into them, due to the trend of functional convergence, I believe that an inclusive, rather than exclusive definition of a carried device would be more appropriate... for example, "carried devices converge a widening variety of information functions and services into a form that can always be kept with the user".

Further: both your own application of the Carry Principle, and Barbara's, appear to dismiss wearable technologies as being included in the definition of carried devices. I see this as flawed, in that wearable technologies display the same trends of convergence of services and functions that carried devices now display.

The example of the watch, itself, tells the story best. History shows that the watch itself began as a miniaturised clock that was carried - the pocket watch. As technology enabled further miniaturisation, the size of this carried device eventually enabled it to be strapped to the wrist of the user. I believe we will see the same trend with information devices that we currently carry - eventually, we will wear them, perhaps even strapped to our wrists or around our necks.

While I have raised some issues in relation to your post, I do very much enjoy your exploration of the topic - thank you for your ideas and insights.

Kind regards,
Leonard.

SYS-CON Australia News Desk 07/25/06 05:55:08 PM EDT

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence.' Mobile Web 2.0 extends the principle of 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence' to restricted devices. The seemingly simple idea of extending Web 2.0 to mobile Web 2.0 has many facets, for instance:

JDJ News Desk 07/25/06 05:34:47 PM EDT

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence.' Mobile Web 2.0 extends the principle of 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence' to restricted devices. The seemingly simple idea of extending Web 2.0 to mobile Web 2.0 has many facets, for instance:

Web 2.0 News Desk 07/25/06 05:03:47 PM EDT

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence.' Mobile Web 2.0 extends the principle of 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence' to restricted devices. The seemingly simple idea of extending Web 2.0 to mobile Web 2.0 has many facets, for instance:

Web 2.0 News Desk 07/25/06 03:14:43 PM EDT

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence.' Mobile Web 2.0 extends the principle of 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence' to restricted devices. The seemingly simple idea of extending Web 2.0 to mobile Web 2.0 has many facets, for instance:

Web 2.0 News Desk 07/25/06 03:14:31 PM EDT

I see Web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence.' Mobile Web 2.0 extends the principle of 'Harnessing Collective Intelligence' to restricted devices. The seemingly simple idea of extending Web 2.0 to mobile Web 2.0 has many facets, for instance:

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