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There’s a lot of talk about the so-called Web 2.0 at the moment, and I’m in two minds about what I think.
On the one hand, as a geek who used to be involved in publishing, “new” almost de facto equates to “exciting”. It could genuinely be the Web is metamorphosing from rather dull dumb-terminals sending and receiving screenfulls of data – just like the IBM MVS terminals I used to use in 1988 – to a rich, asynchronous, application-like environment.
On the other hand, I have two worries. The first is my natural scepticism (some might say “cynicism”) about the hype. It seems to me like a new venture capital orgy is being prepared. The bubble is being inflated by pompous and largely empty buzzworks like “folksonomy”, “social networking”, “tag clouds” and others brilliantly satirised on the Go Flock Yourself blog. And where are the business models?
A bubble that subsequently bursts damages us all, and makes us all look like idiots when the trillions of dollars promised to Californian bankers fails to materialise.
I also worry about accessibility. It strikes me that people are so busy adding extra Ajax loveliness that the separate stripped-down “html-only” versions they offer are unthinkingly accepted as a legitimate sop to people with disabilities. We reject separate “text-only sites” in Web 1.0 ; why should we accept them in “Web 2.0”?
But in the rush to “Ajaxify” everything (regardless of whether it actually serves a useful purpose other than saying “ooh look at me I’m web 2.0 too!”), the majority of developers are not properly thinking through the accessibility ramifications.
Personally, I would like to see Ajax used in the same way that any other kind of DOMscripting should be used: as an enhancement to, rather than a requirement of, the user experience. I would like to see the idea of Hijaxing applied to pages elements like feedback forms and shopping carts.
This is so vital that I’m going to do something that I never do and recommend something that I haven’t actually attended: a Hijax training course in London on February 10th. It’s very expensive, but if you’re thinking of building “Web 2.0” DOMscript applications, you need to learn, and practice, Hijax now. If you don’t, then it doesn’t matter how well your pages validate – your sites are as pernicious in their own way as all those crappy 1990’s DHTML tricks. And you’ll be part of the problem that the Web Standards movement has tried to hard to solve.
I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with clear:left or Jeremy Keith’s training course. Though I wouldn’t say no to a free ticket 😉