The Best Web Year Ever

Opinion: Google, RSS and company hookups incite commentary VH1-style.

Anyone who watches the VH1 show "Best Week Ever" knows that it basically follows the format of VH1s "I Love the 70s/80s/90s." The latter consists of C- and D-list celebrities commenting (usually wryly) on a particular decade ("Remember He-Man? What was up with him?!"), while the former does the same, but for the most recent week ("Remember the Nick and Jessica breakup? What was up with that?!").

Since its the end of the year and my brain is getting ready to take some time off—even before the rest of my body realizes it—Ive decided to rip off the VH1 shows format for this column.

Im going to look back on the big events of the past year that affected the Web and Internet technologies, but instead of commentary from little-known or unknown real-life "celebrities," youll be hearing from some made-up IT celebrities (all of whom are me). Im no Michael Ian Black, but here goes ...

(Imagine theme music here.) And now, the Best Web Year Ever!

Its Googles Web, and the rest of us just work, play and live in it.

2005 was clearly the year of Google. You couldnt go a whole week without hearing about some big new technology or acquisition from the giant search (and a whole lot more) vendor. From mapping to searching books to setting up cities for wireless access, Google was seemingly everywhere, creating riches for its investors and fear for many potential competitors.

Mitzi, the quirky technology blogger: "I loooooove Google. What else lets me search for other peoples ideas that I can then use on my blog, figure out how to get to a new restaurant, watch my ex-boyfriends house by satellite to see who has parked there, and host my blog and e-mail? My life is just Googletastic!"

Ted, the washed-up former technology hotshot: "Google has done some interesting stuff, but it could be a whole lot better. I have a ton of ideas about how to improve on what theyre doing. Did I mention that I live just 30 minutes from their offices?"

Cynthia, the snarky technology journalist: "If I see another Google story, I think Ill be sick. I mean, have they really done anything that groundbreaking or unique to deserve all this coverage? Im starting to think that Google is the Paris Hilton of the Internet."

Its fun to subscribe to the R-S-S, its fun to subscribe to the R-S-S! (sung to the tune of "YMCA")

Its not just for bloggers anymore. The simple XML-based format lets people subscribe to news headlines, searches, pictures, e-mails and, of course, blogs. It was only a matter of time till Microsoft got its hands on it. Will the Gates gang truly support it, or are we in for the old game of embrace and extend?

Grant, the outsourced IT guy: "I cant get enough of RSS feeds. I dont even use my Web browser anymore. I get news feeds in the morning, blog feeds for lunch and ... umm ... personal feeds at night. Theyre all I think about. Feed me, Seymour!"

Cynthia: "RSS is totally for posers. Everybody who is anybody uses Atom."

Chip, the extreme programmer: "RSS—those are good letters, real sexy and curvy. What is it again?"

Todd, another extreme programmer, talking with Chip: "You idiot! Its a simple format for identifying content that can be subscribed to and delivered on a schedule or when updated. It stands for Real Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary or ... you know, youre right—those are sexy letters."

Bennifer, Brangelina and, now, Macrodobe?

Everybody likes a good hookup, but the mergers and acquisitions this year got a little confusing for technology buyers, almost as if the technology world is now emulating Larry King, Donald Trump and JLo. Its gotten to the point where you need a daily scorecard (perhaps delivered via RSS) to keep track of what companies own the software you use in your enterprise. Adobe acquires Macromedia, 3Com acquires TippingPoint, BEA acquires Plumtree, Yahoo acquires Flickr.

Mitzi: "I always thought that Adobe and Macromedia would hook up eventually. Its like one of those couples where theyre always fighting and screaming, but you know that they secretly want each other."

Grant: "I love TippingPoint, but how could they end up with 3Com? It doesnt make any sense. I dont care what you say, 3Com, Im not going to use your equipment with my IPS. You cant tell me what to do! Youre not my real parent!"

Chip and Todd, singing: "Love. Exciting and new. Bring your Plumtree portal aboard. BEA is expecting you!"

Well, thats it for this years episode. But whats in store for next year? Will standards and Internet Explorer-only Web sites finally stop their ugly feud? Will phishers and root kits take advantage of even more impressionable and naive Web sites and users? Will Sergey and Larry go over to the dark side and rename Google the Evil Searching Site?

No matter what, it will definitely be the Best Web Year Ever.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at


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