Web as a platform --my views
Web2.0 is all about the platform.
In layman terms we call OS as a platform , this is because it gives us the necessary support that is required to develop applications and to use them. OS alone is of no use if there are no applications. The popularity of a OS (Windows,Linux) is based on the number of user/system applications it provides and the support it provides to develop new applications. Linux is quite popular among students since it provides vast support for development of applications. Another reason why we want platform is because it allows thousand of users to contribute to the development of new applications without worrying about the low level details of the system. Also the developers of the OS can concentrate on developing the platform while other people can develop the applications which they think are useful.
Think it this way If there was no OS then you would be required to perform all the memory management, task scheduling all by yourself. Even a Hello World program could then become a 1 month project !!. In simple words the kinds of application which we can develop now a days in few hours would have taken months.
Now a days all the current programming paradigms are based on frameworks .NET, J2EE, Ruby on Rails rather than on a particular language specifications. Users first look what all support a particular framework gives in terms of architecture, classes, language and then start using it. The reason why Rails is gaining so much popularity is because of the framework (the richness of the platform it provides)
The bottom line is that users want ability to extend the systems rather than just be a dumb user.
Web2.0 supports this philosophy in a big way.
The new websites/web portals are coming with the idea of providing the platform/framework. They provide the user various APIs that help him to develop the applications and plug them in their framework.E.g. facebook. The users are developing mashups that are the result of remixing multiple APIs together to create a new application. The development in web had never been so prominent as it is happening now. Like OS is running various processes which can share some information among themselves, similarly in web the portals can share information in the form on RSS feeds. The web is full of resources : Photos from Flickr, Videos from YouTube, Social Networking APIs from Facebook, Bookmarks from delicious, Storage and Computing power form Amazon, Financial services from Yahoo, Maps from Google and list goes on (This is like the drivers, Communication libraries a typical OS provide) you can use them and come up with wonderful applications.
The main reason for this success is because when you provide an application rather than a platform you have defined an intended use which has limited use. But when you provide a platform you open the opportunities for developing applications which even you had never thought about before. This is how Facebook has become so popular.Its a win-win situation for the facebook and its users
1. The popularity of the facebook is touching sky (Benefit for facebook)
2. The users can do experiments and come up with really cool applications which the creator may not have thought about. (user are happy so is facebook)
3. It creates an interest in the tech savvy users to use more and more of the facebook and hence the user faithfulness (user are happy so is facebook)
4. Overall it is helping in the growth of the craze for the web. (Most important)
I will say that the philosophy of Web2.0 to provide a platform has started the web revolution which is going to change the way the applications were developed forever.