Sunday, May 14th, 2006

The Collaborative Web with Ajax

Category: Comet, Editorial

There have been many signs pointing us to how collaborative the live web is going to become.

Firstly, we have apps such as Jot and Campfire to connect people in real time. These connections are normally planned. “Let’s meet at 10pm to create the podcast script”.

Then, we have collaboration that isn’t planned. I am sure that you have probably been on a website recently that has an option to talk to someone. You could be looking up a quote, and get to a point where it would be nicer to speak to a human, or you could be on a tech support site.

The point is that we will often try to get work done that can gain from crossing with another human that is there to help us, or maybe is trying to get the same work done.

This all clicked with me in the Adobe/Macromedia keynote that Kevin Lynch made at The Ajax Experience. Part of his talk showed off rick collaboration, including video streams between two people. Control of the application was also part of this. The mice of each person are on view, and control can be given so that your collabo-mate can move you around.

There are huge applications around this simple thought. For too long we think of the web as an activity in which you go and “browse” around consuming content, or even producing content by yourself. Soon, we will doing a lot more live creating and management, and Ajax makes this a lot cleaner.

Web 1.0 collaboration is:

  • I say that I want to edit a page
  • I edit the page
  • I save the changes

Web 2.0 collaboration is:

  • I see my collabo-mates all working on items
  • I make changes, and the others see them in real time
  • We can join forces for certain changes

Life is going to get a lot more social on the web. We are moving from the feeling of having a party via a phone call to all being in the same room at once.

Now we need to take the tools that we have and build new ones which enable us to add live collaboration into our applications (which will cause us to re-think our applications). Comet is a low level technology that will be part of this enablement.

Do you have any really collaborative apps that we can showcase?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 5:31 pm

3.7 rating from 21 votes


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About the difference between web 1.0 and 2.0 collaboration:
Personally I don’t believe that the basic difference between 1.0 and 2.0 lies in forcing you to express the explicit wish for editing as the statement might suggest.
In collaborative scenarios the possibility to communicate intentions is a very important feature and crucial for avoiding conflicts by synchrounous access.
E. g. if Alice and Bob repair theire motorcycle it is very different if Alice just holds a screwdriver the way that Bob can grasp it or if Alice actually starts using the tool to detach some parts of the motorcycle.
The same can be said about editing a web-page. It is a big difference if I just look at the page – others will not expect me to add any changes… Or if I am going to edit the page – others will have to be aware of changes going on.
Therefore this is more a problem of a clever user interaction design allowing me to express my wish to change something in a more subtle way than by clicking a button that loads the page into an editor. Of course Web 2.0 technologies will make implementation a lot easier but it will not solve basic problems of collaborative interaction just by itself. Therefore my beliefe is that real “killer applications” do not arise by using web 2.0 technologies only – altough they are a very sound foundation. The igniting spark has to come from novel user interaction techniques that are driven by web 2.0 technologies and inspired by the new possibilities that Ajax has to offer.

Comment by Alexander Lorz — May 16, 2006

check out this website
it’s a collabortive whitboard.

Comment by Ras — May 23, 2006

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