It’s getting towards the end of the year and I’m feeling the need to take stock of where we’ve actually come with Web 2.0 in the last 12 months. So much has happened in this space recently and a tidal wave of innovative, high-quality software has been released this year. So much in fact, that it’s hard to keep track of it all. While many of us talk about Web 2.0 ideas, there’s no substitute for pointing to concrete examples. And this also gives credit where credit is due to all the hard-working folks building the next generation of the Web.
So in spirit of the holidays, here is a list of some of the best Web 2.0 software that I’ve come across so far. You may have heard of some of these, but hopefully you’ll find a few nice new Christmas presents under your Web 2.0 tree.
Finally, the usual disclaimer: This list is entirely subjective and any errors or omissions are my fault, you may not (and probably won’t!) agree with some of the software I’ve listed. But this isn’t a one-way web, I definitely encourage you to list anything you feel we missed or got wrong below in the comments. Please use the wiki link syntax ([url text_desc]) help to make sure you embed plenty of good links. Finally, a big thanks to Kate Allen for help compiling this list. Enjoy!
The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005
Best Offering: del.icio.us
Description: Just acquired by Yahoo!, which already has a social bookmarking service called My Web 2.0, the exact future of this seminal bookmarking site is now a little up in the air. But del.icio.us remains the best, largest, fastest, and most elegant social bookmarking service on the Web. In fact, del.icio.us is the benchmark that all others use. And because del.icio.us appears to take the Web 2.0 ideas pretty seriously, they provide a nice API for others to build new services on top of. As a consequence of this, and because social bookmarking sites makes everyone’s data public, witness the amazing array of add-on services (or if you have 15 minutes to spare, look here) that mash-up or otherwise reuse del.icio.us functionality and content. If you want access to your bookmarks anywhere you go along with engaging and satisfying functionality, this is your first stop. I personally can’t live without my tag cloud of del.icio.us bookmarks.
Runners-Up: http://blinklist.com, http://shadows.com, http://clipmarks.com
Category:Web 2.0 Start Pages
Best Offering: Netvibes
Description: There are a rapidly growing number of Ajax start pages that allow your favorite content to be displayed, rearranged, and viewed dynamically whenever you want. But if the traffic to this blog is any indication (though possibly it isn’t) Netvibes is far and away the most popular one. Available in multiple languages, sporting new integration with Writely, and offering an extremely slick and well-designed interface that provides some of the best DHTML powered drag-an-drop organization, Netvibes has no major vendor backing, yet it has captured mindshare out of pure excellence. While many of the major Web companies like Microsoft and Google are offering competing products, none of them are yet very good.
Runners-Up: http://protopage.com, http://start.com
Category:Online To Do Lists
Best Offering: Voo2do
Description: Ever more of the software we use on a daily basis is moving online, from e-mail to feed readers. To-do list managers are no exception. I’ve used a variety of them and so far the one that’s resonated with me most is Voo2do. A one person operation run by Shimon Rura, Voo2do uses Ajax sparingly but very effectively to let you create and manage multiple to do lists. With an API available for you to access or export your data with your own programs, support for Joel Spolsky’s Painless Software Scheduling method, Voo2do is the embodiment of simple, satisfying software.
Runners-Up: http://www.tadalist.com, http://rememberthemilk.com
Category: Peer Production News
Best Offering: digg
Description: While not packed with Ajax, digg frankly doesn’t lack for it. And of course, Ajax is only one of many optional ingredients on the Web 2.0 checklist. The important Web 2.0 capability digg provides is that it successfully harnesses collective intelligence. All news items listed in digg are supplied by its users which then exert editorial control by clicking on the digg button for each story they like. The home page lists the most popular current stories, all selected by its registered users. And digg’s RSS feed has to be one of the most popular on the Web. Digg has been so successful that Wired magazine has even speculated it could bury Slashdot, which also allows users to submit stories, but doesn’t let them see what stories were submitted or vote on them.
Runners-Up: http://diggdot.us, http://gabbr.com, https://reddit.com
Category: Image Storage and Sharing
Best Offering: Flickr
Description: Also acquired by Yahoo! earlier this year, Flickr is the canonical photo/image sharing site par excellence. Sprinkled with a smattering of just enough Ajax to reduce page loads and make tasks easy, Flickr provides an open API, prepackaged licensing models for your photos, tagging, a variety of community involvement mechanisms, and a vast collection of add-ons and mashups. There are other sites but none of them compare yet. Flickr is one of the Web 2.0 poster children and for a good reason.
Runners-Up: http://zoto.com, http://glidedigital.com, http://shutterbook.com
Category: 3rd Party Online File Storage
Best Offering: Openomy
Description: As more and more software moves to the Web, having a secure place for your Web-based software to store files such as documents, media, and other data will become essential. There is a burgeoning group of online file storage services and Openomy is one that I’ve been watching for a while. With 1Gb of free file storage and an open API for programmatic access to your tag-based Openomy file system, and you have the raw ingredients for secure online storage of your documents wherever you go. There is even a Ruby-binding for the API. Expect lots of growth in this space going forward, especially as other Web 2.0 applications allow you to plug into your online storage service of choice and the desire also grows to offload personal data backup to professionals.
Runners-Up: http://xdrive.com, http://www.omnidrive.com.au, http://allmydata.com
Category: Blog Filters
Best Offering: Memeorandum.com
Description: Gabe Rivera’s Memeorandum service is a relevance engine that unblinkingly monitors the activity in the blogosphere and appears to point out the most important posts of the day with a deftness that is remarkable. The growing attention scarcity caused by the rivers of information we’re being subjected to in the modern world needs tools that effectively help us cope with it. Blog filters are just one key example of what the future holds for us. Memeorandum covers both the political and technology blogospheres, and hopefully others in the future. There are other blog and news filters out there, but none compare in terms of simplicity, elegance, and satisfying results.
Runners-Up: http://findory.com, http://topix.net, http://blogniscient.com, http://tailrank.com
Category: Grassroots Use of Web 2.0
Best Offering: Katrina List Network
Description: I covered Katrinalist.net in a detailed blog post a while back but it remains one of the best examples of grassroots Web 2.0. Katrinalist was an emergent phenomenon that triggered the peer production of vital information in the aftermath of this year’s hurricane disaster in New Orleans. In just a handful of days participants created XML data formats, engineered data aggregation from RSS feeds, and harnessed volunteer efforts on-the-fly to compile survivor data from all over the Web. This led to tens of thousands of survivor reports being aggregated into a single database so that people could easily identify and locate survivors from the Katrinalist Web site. All this despite the fact that the information was distributed in unstructured formats from all over the Web with no prior intent of reuse. A hearty thanks again to David Geilhufe for help making Katrinalist happen.
Category: Web-Based Word Processing
Best Offering: Writely
Description: Easy to set-up, fast, free (in beta), and familiar to those with even a passing familiarity to MS word, Writely.com is an effective and easy to use online word processor. With its WSIWYG editor, users can change font and font size, spell check and insert images (up to 2MB). It also uses tagging and version control, both excellent features for any word processor. A very useful word processing tool, especially for those who can’t afford to buy MS Office. In addition to being a word processor, Writely.com also serves as a collaboration tool. Users invite others to collaborate on a certain documents via email. It is can also serve as a tool to help a user blog and publish. Built with an AJAX user interface, it maximizes many of the new features available with Web 2.o. It ends, once and for all, any uncertainty that productivity tools can and should stay online. Writely is the best out there but just by a nose. The others are very close runners-up.
Runners-Up: http://writeboard.com, http://www.rallypointhq.com, http://zohowriter.com
Category: Online Calendars
Best Offering: CalendarHub
Description: Online calendaring is a rapidly growing product category in the Web 2.0 software arena. The fact is that a lack of good, shareable electronic calendars is still a real problem these days. I’m fond of saying that the software world has vast collections of synchronization utilities and integration capabilities, yet it’s incredible that we still can’t routinely do simple things like keeping our personal, family, and work calendars synchronized. CalendarHub is the best online calendar I’ve seen so far, with Kiko a close second.
Category: Project Management & Team Collaboration
Best Offering: BaseCamp
Description: Web 2.0 has terrific social collaboration models for two-way information exchange like blogs and wikis, open enrichment mechanisms like tagging, ranking, popularity, and organizing techniques like folksonomies. All of these provide a great backdrop for team collaboration and project management. Surprisingly, there aren’t many terrific Web 2.0 project management tools. Part of this is because project management tends to be very specific between different types of projects. Fortunately for Web 2.0 companies, this means there isn’t a lot of competition from traditional software companies like Microsoft and Primavera, which churn out somewhat mediocre products in the shrinkwrapped software space. This is why 37Signal’s Basecamp is such a pleasant surprise. It’s an excellent team-based project management tool that continues to delight me the more I use it.
The Story Continues However, As It Must!
No one person could accurately list the best Web 2.0 software of 2005. This is the wisdom of crowds bit of Web 2.0. In order to complete this list, I’ll need your help. Please contribute your selections below. Keep in mind that I haven’t worked with many of the terrific Web 2.0 software applications out there but many of you have. There are whole product categories I’m not covering here and I’m glad to keep extending this post if we get lots of feedback. Tell me about social spreadsheets, Web 2.0 project management tools, video versions of Flickr, additional grassroots Web 2.0 events, and whatever else you know of.
Web 2.0 is an exciting, vibrant community. Let’s show the world what Web 2.0 is made of…
Update: I added an online calendar section and put a few new runners-up. Also added project management and team collaboration.
Update 2: Two follow on lists have been very popular, check them out for more great software, especially in the comments: More Great Web 2.0 Software and Most Promising Web 2.0 Software of 2006.
Update 3: My first Enterprise Web 2.0 software list is out. It has an extensive list of many enterprise-ready Web 2.0 software applications.
Update 4: August 14th, 2006 – A List of Major Web 2.0 Up-and-Comers: Predicting the Next YouTube or MySpace.