If you’ve had a technical conversation related to the social web recently, then there’s a good chance that buzzwords like “APIs” or “The Cloud” came up at some point. As a technical director, I hear and say these words on a daily basis so it’s easy for me to take them for granted. That being said, I like to take a step back from time to time when the blank-stare-to-nodding-head ratio is noticeably off. Let me take a moment to break down five of these digital technologies and how they support the social web.
1. The Cloud
“The Cloud” has become an ambiguous, almost supernatural force that is fueled by the influx of marketing attention. What the cloud really refers to is cloud computing, or a network of computers that act as a pool of resources easily scalable to accommodate the peaks and valleys of customers’ computing demands. Currently, the cloud is heavily used for media and storage-related applications, but is quickly growing into supporting full-featured, web-based applications, like Microsoft Office, that live on the cloud rather than your computer. This is a major shift to being able to access the software as well as edit and save your documents all in the cloud via any web browser.
In the context of the social web, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) refer to a way for a website to communicate with another website. This is commonly seen when websites and applications integrate with Google Maps, Twitter feeds or Amazon’s product catalog. Yelp.com is a good example of leveraging the Google Maps API to display business locations and related information. These are critical when creating “mashups,” or web applications that combine and present the output of two or more sites. Here’s a list of 5 Innovative Uses of an API from Mashable.
An iFrame is like a window to another website on a web page. Facebook has recently breathed new life into this Web 1.0 technique when it started supporting them earlier this year for custom tabs and applications on brand Pages. Facebook’s new iFrame support opened a whole new world of possibilities for creating robust and highly interactive brand experiences within Facebook. Take a look at the custom tabs of some of your favorite Facebook brand Pages to get an idea of the possibilities of iFrames on Facebook. This is just the beginning.
The future of RSS is frequently debated, though there is no denying that it is a core technology that is part of the plumbing making up the modern web. RSS, which stands for Real Simple Syndication, refers to a standardized data format that is most commonly used to distribute blog and news content to other websites and applications across the Internet. Consumers typically leverage RSS when using feed readers like Google Reader. Entering the URLs of your favorite news websites and blogs into a RSS reader allows you to aggregate the latest content from your favorite websites into one centralized consumption source.
What technology terms do you find yourself confused by?
Image Credit: Daniel
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