Monday, July 31, 2006

The do-it-yourself Web emerges

By Martin LaMonica
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: July 31, 2006, 4:00 AM PDT

New services from fledging start-ups enable people to build Web applications themselves, which pundits say will unleash creativity.

(...) Enter the do-it-yourself Web. A growing number of start-ups, like Calbucci's Sampa, are trying to bring Web application creation to the masses, letting mere mortals share spreadsheets online or "mash up" information from different Web sites.

The idea is to empower non-programmers to make sites that are more than a simple collection of static Web pages. In the process, individuals will gain better tools to collaborate and communicate online, particularly when these services are brought to the office, say experts.

"Bringing do-it-yourself (Web sites) to the office may be the beginning of a new movement to free up creativity at the individual office worker level," said John Seely Brown, a consultant and former chief scientist at Xerox. "I think we have the perfect storm for some major changes."

Seely Brown said rapid commoditization of hardware and software, combined with greater bandwidth, makes complex hosted services more viable. Also, modern browsers enable more interactive Web applications and consumers are becoming accustomed to mixing information from multiple sources to create their own applications.

End-user application development is a long-held--and largely unsuccessful--idea. But entrepreneurs and experts contend that emerging tools are paving the way for untrained people to create relatively sophisticated Web sites, typically an outgrowth of blogs, wikis and bookmark-sharing sites like Delicious.

"It's really easy to do collaborative content sharing through blogs and wikis, but I have other tools on my desktop like a spreadsheet and a database," said Peter O'Kelly, an analyst at the Burton Group. "It'd be really nice to take those familiar tools and bring them to the Web--and that's exactly what's happening."

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