Web 2.0 Concepts for Mobile Services

The aim of this project is to design, prototype, and evaluate Web 2.0 concepts for mobile services. Web 2.0 is often misleadingly thought of as simple dynamic web-site features programmed using AJAX or Javascript callback.

By Web 2.0, we first of all mean services that deliver value for its clients based on use- provided content and feedback. To illustrate this, consider the two online bookstores BarnesAndNoble.com and Amazon.com. Even though these two web-sites started almost simultaneously online, the latter has by far the largest market share. When Barnes and Noble went online, they basically listed all the books they had in their real stores, and allowed people to search these books. Amazon did several things differently. First of all, they tracked the users and the users’ purchases over time, allowing them to add information such as “Users that bought this book also bought these books” and present specialized offers when users log in “Last time you were here, your purchased this book—this new book might also be relevant for you.” In addition, they allowed users to give feedback on the books they bought, including both star-based ratings and textual reviews. Later on, they allowed users to actually see some parts of the books online and to search inside the books. They also made it possible for other stores not directly affiliated with Amazon to sell books through their website (at the cost of commission of course). By now, Barnes and Noble has, of course, copied several of the services supplied by Amazon, but at that time, it was to late; Amazon.com had already established itself as everybody’s online bookstore.

The companies that first actively use user-supplied content and feedback have been very successful. Such companies include YouTube.com, Flickr.com, and a wide range of other companies that have embraced new ideas such as Tag clouds, Folksonomies, and other social network concepts.

The goal of many such services is to leverage the collective intelligence of communities or crowds. The idea is that a single user does not supply any value, but a united group of thousands of users can together create valuable content and services. The best example of this is probably Wikipedia that is reliant solely on its users’ abilities to correctly describe concepts. Compare this to Encyclopedia Britannica which is basically just an online version of a normal encyclopedia.

With the above examples in mind, the purpose of this project is to investigate how to transfer Web 2.0 concepts to apply to mobile contextaware services. The context of a user includes several things, such as age, gender, day of week and time of day, and the current position of the user. How can this context be combined with Web 2.0 concepts to create valuable services for the users? Is it possible to use automatically collected values, such as GPS positions, to increase the value even further?