GEELAN: By default now you're a bit of a wordsmith, so let me ask you this. In exactly this space we have that word "rich" that you just used, unpacked by Gartner quite usefully, and that's making some progress, but they're having to work hard because rich is such a vague word. Then we have, and you know what I'm going to say next, Web 2.0. Now somebody - it wasn't Jesse this time - somebody comes up with it - you can argue whether it was Tim O'Reilly or someone else. Now comes another, even more strange than rich, what is your take on that? Is that going to help? It seems to me that AJAX comes to be the focal point precisely because it's tighter, better defined, and you came at it with a philosophy almost, which Web 2 is kind of searching for and rich just doesn't even get it.
GARRETT: I think you're right, that Web 2.0 as a concept or as a label has been used and applied to a wide variety of concepts that seem to have very little in common.
GEELAN: That could change.
GARRETT: Yes, but I think that the essential thing that people are trying to express when they use the term Web 2.0 is that something new is happening, something exciting is happening, and that the medium itself...
GEELAN: It serves a purpose. It's like a rallying cry, something's going on.
What they're saying is that the medium is evolving, that for all of the people, the people who may not be as close to Web technology as we are, who maybe thought that the Web was something whose time had come and gone perhaps, or that the Web had reached this plateau state. This is a way of communicating to those people that the Web is still in motion and that there are still a lot of changes afoot, and that, I think, is the real value of Web 2.0.
GEELAN: So you're not against it. It's serving a purpose.
I'm not against it. I think it's something that the more you try to
define it kind of the less useful it becomes because that's not really
what it's about.
GEELAN: We have this richness, rich media, versus you've gone more with just user-centric, which seems to be much more friendly. You just said this, I like that. If the Web now is going to become user-centric, what centric was it before?
GARRETT: Well, I think we actually do see still, on a very regular basis, technology companies putting things out in the world because they were really interested in solving a particular technical problem.
GEELAN: Because it could be done.
GARRETT: Right, rather than doing something because there's a strong sense of a need out there in the marketplace or there's a way that we can deliver something compelling and innovative to users, they are saying, if we take this technology, this technology, and this technology and we put them all together, let's throw them out in the marketplace and see what people do with them. That ends up being a much more difficult kind of path to take.
GEELAN: Let's take another slice of it while we've got you sort of in a lexicological mode, the one-page Web; is that a useful metaphor? It's kind of floating about.
GARRETT: I think there's a limited sense in which the one-page Web is true. I still think that there are a lot of applications for which having multiple sections or pages still make a lot of sense, so I don't think we're going to be reducing the whole Web down to one page.
GEELAN: We seem to be on to something; let's now get what we want out of it, something useful, you seem to be very passionate about it.
GARRETT: Yes, and I think that we, as a community, we've learned a lot. We've learned a lot from the boom; we've learned a lot from the bust in the Web industry about how to pursue the evolution of this medium in a way that is a little bit smarter and a little bit more savvy and taking a course that will really deliver value for people.
GEELAN: Have you ever wavered in your love of the Web?
GARRETT: Not really.
GEELAN: You said yourself that some people are mainly thinking plateau; some of them think it's gone.
GARRETT: I haven't really. I had a lot of people around the time that the bubble burst in 2000, 2001, ask me if I was going to try to do something else, maybe get out of technology altogether. However, it was at that time that I kind of redoubled my commitment to the Web by starting Adaptive Path, which started in the spring of 2001. So I've always been a big believer in the Web and, if anything, my experience in the last year has just kind of confirmed that belief.
GEELAN: As the Chinese say of love, and we're talking about a love affair with the Web. The Chinese say that there are two types to love. It can be like a hot kettle that's put on a cold stove. After a while, of course, the steam goes out of it. It seems to me that AJAX and Jesse James Garrett are a cold kettle - no disrespect - but you're a cold kettle put on a hot stove; you're coming to the boil and it's going to - oh my god - just watch this space. Thank you so much, Jesse James Garrett.
About Jeremy Geelan Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.
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