Whitepapers and TLAs

There’s an interesting new Web2.0 whitepaper available from IBM, entitled “Putting the power of Web 2.0 into practice. How rich Internet applications can deliver tangible business benefits”.

RIAs_LOW14003-USEN-00.pdf (page 1 of 12)

In general, it’s not bad in terms of content:

With Web sites such as Facebook and YouTube drawing more and more Internet traffic each day, Web 2.0 is rapidly emerging as the next big wave in Web site design. Often defined as “Web as a platform,” collective intelligence or rich user experiences, Web 2.0 technology has transformed traditional application development principles by making it possible to write applications that run on the Web, rather than on a desktop. As a result, companies can now offer more users a richer, more interactive user experience than ever before.

The new class of Web applications providing this rich, interactive user experience are called rich Internet applications.




This paper looks at a few compelling reasons you should pay attention to rich Internet applications, presents a deeper dive into the technology behind them and then looks at the various capabilities of rich Internet applications and the benefits you could potentially gain from them.

It goes onto to espouse the benefits of using tools such as Websphere Portal, Portlet Factory and Lotus Expeditor as a means to develop these applications.

All well and good, except I have three comments:

1) IBM must look to update its general document format used for whitepapers, specsheets and case studies. It has not changed significantly in 5 years and looks desperately dated.  
2) Despite this whitepaper being about applications with “Richer, more intuitive interfaces”, not one screen shot or schematic is used, just 12 pages of small, black and white text.  If this was the first evidence I’d seen that IBM understood Web2.0 technology, and I was comparing IBM with other toolkit vendors I would not be impressed at all.
3) TLAs!  I have slightly edited the text shown above, the third paragraph actually reads:

This paper looks at a few compelling reasons you should pay attention to RIAs, presents a deeper dive into the technology behind them and then looks at the various capabilities of RIAs and the benefits you could potentially gain from them.

Yes, “rich Internet applications” becomes “RIAs” – a meaningless TLA that noone uses in real life.  Whilst there is a Wikipedia page that mentions them, I have never heard this term used in any customer I have spoken to, and you can be sure that the users of Facebook, Flickr, del.icio.us etc wont identify them as “RIAs” either.  Worse, this TLA then gets used 30 times in the document, in my opinion completely dominating the content of the whitepaper.

Come on IBM, you have great products, brilliant people, understand the requirements of building realworld Web application, get the message out there!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!