I was at an event yesterday evening looking at who would be the most influential person in IT in the last 100 years. Nominees were rated by their innovation, technological breakthrough, commercial success, impact on society and overall influence.
Many of the nominees were of the web generation: the founders of Amazon, Google, eBay for instance.
But there were also a surprising number of so-called web 2.0 innovators. I have no problems with web 1.0. Its success has come about because everyone agreed on a set of HTML standards for serving, presenting and navigating through documents and IP was the global communications standard that made it all work.
Much of what I have seen of web 2.0 is proprietary. Web 2.0 doesn’t appear to be as much a platform, more a mishmash of proprietary applications. However, the one application that seems to standout, in my opinion, is Wikipedia.
It is, in my opinion, the logical successor to Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of document sharing: sharing our collective knowledge. Anyone can participate, which moves the creation and distribution of knowledge away from the elitist few, to the masses.
MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are mere geek toys. Of course, new artists will be discovered on these sites and new art forms, but Wikipedia, founded by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, has the potential to enlighten society as a whole. It’s the one that would get my vote, and through Wikipedia, Wales and Sanger have a chance to really make a difference – just like Berners-Lee in 1990. What do you think?