Web 2.0: Back to the future?

PORTLAND, ORE—Web 2.0 initiatives such as cloud computing
and the programmable Web could take us back to the days of
proprietary centralized systems, warned Tim O'Reilly, founder of
O'Reilly Media and the originator of the term “Web

While we think of the Web as an open platform, there is no
guarantee that tomorrow's use of the Web will be based on open
standards, O'Reilly said.

“One of the things that is happening is immense
centralization. We need to think what will make this Web platform
of the future open. How do we redefine the world so that it matches
our values,” O'Reilly said to the crowd of open-source
developers at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON), being
held this week here.

One example is the emerging industry of cloud computing. In
cloud computing, a third party hosts a computing service that an
organization may access over the Internet. Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud offers hosted
computational capabilities.

The danger in using such services is that it could lock customer
data into a provider's infrastructure, according to O'Reilly. He
quoted a Microsoft executive as saying that, in the future, using a
vendor's platform means being hosted on their infrastructure.

It is not just cloud computing that holds this danger. Other
initiatives, such as the programmable Web and the emerging market
for mobile computational devices, carry the same potential.

Any new Web-based software could hold the danger of data
lock-in. Other examples O'Reilly offered included Apple's iTunes
software, which provides an unpublished service to look up track
names for music CDs, and Amazon's Kimble electronic book reader,
which uses a proprietary format for the e-books.

O'Reilly called for open-source based alternatives to these
initiatives. Along these lines, Dirk Hohndel, chief Linux and
open-source strategist for Intel Corp., introduced a new initiative
called Moblin, for building an open-source software
stack for new devices for low-cost subnotebooks, mobile Internet
and other devices.

Hohndel said that while there are multiple efforts to port Linux
over to smaller mobile platforms, none are entirely open source in
nature. It will be built around Intel's Atom low-power processor,
though it can be ported to other platforms as well. Hohndel said
that the initiative hopes to get a working build ready for release
within a few weeks.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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