Khris Loux is CEO and co-founder of JS-Kit, a start-up company that provides widgets to easily add interactivity to your site:
Our simple, modular and fully customizable web-services, also known as “widgets”, are fast becoming the building blocks of rich, interactive online experiences for leading-edge web sites. These solutions are self-service, elegant, powerful, and easily deployed by HTML neophytes, experts and everyone in between.
Widgets are often referred to as the “bling bling” of Web 2.0 but JS-Kit takes the next step in widget development by providing customizable services which complement and build on each other. Loux’s talk titled “Web 3.0 or Web 3D?, The Decentralization, Disaggregation and Democratization of the Web” deals with the new dimension that widgets add to the web.
JS-kit provides simple lightweight web applications, widgets, that add rich interactive features to any site or blog. This is done by simply copying and pasting a piece of code in order to experience an Amazon class service. By lowering the technical and financial bar they allow smaller companies to compete with major services. JS-Kit addresses the long tail of business so a startup does not need to spend precious money on programmers to add customer interactivity to their site. In fact, their services are so light-weight that even big companies such as Yahoo use them on some parts of their site. Yahoo developers said they chose to use the JS-Kit widgets because they are so easy to use.
The next phase on the web
If Web 1.0 was about publishers teaching the truth and Web 2.0 revolved around bloggers balancing out the web then Web 3.0 is about publishers joining the conversation and consumers becoming part of the business. The structure of the web is changing and Web 3.0 concerns itself with connecting cross-points. Loux compares the evolution of the web with the human brain which is amazingly good at connecting distributed information.
Loux presents a somewhat utopian vision where search is replaced with a process where “everything that you needed would be right there.” SEO is a treadmill because we are all playing the same game and everyone is getting better at it. We need to skip SEO and advertising and instead take the true value of the product and spread it out. Widgets allow you to spread information out and bind relevant information.
Companies need to bridge the credibility gap by making the potential buyer be aware of the status of the transaction before it is actually made. Widgets allow customers to rate products or even rate the company. Where would you rather buy your products? With a company which has been rated reliable or with a company whose status is unknown? By making the whole process is more transparent both companies and buyers win. Trust, user ratings, transparency and user interaction are important factors in the direction the web is currently taking.
Ownership is also an important issue on the distributed web as you should have a right to you own content. Social networks trap your content in their sites and you do not get paid for it. The value of their site is their idea filled with your content but where is the download button, where is the “I want to leave now and take all my stuff” button? Loux notes that it is hard to get the legal community involved in these questions. In the long term we need a Creative Commons style licensing to have a balanced relationship with these sites. In order to prevent stifled innovation we need open standards.
As a consumer we should demand OpenID access and be able to take our data out. Loux states that we should challenge the big companies and blog about open standards. Especially start-ups should embrace open standards because they are in the long tail of business. According to Loux startups can change the currently closed social network environment by adopting open standards. Startups are the new generation based on open standards. Startups can avoid the closed business cycle by taking up the power and empower the community.
Startups in the long tail hold the power to embrace open standards and challenge the big companies.