Om Malik profiles a company he calls "the American Idol of digital photography." The idea: Get photographers to compete online to get their work printed in a magazine. The site: JPG magazine.
It's human nature to compete for scarce resources. Online space isn't scarce, but print always is scarce. I wonder what use newspapers could make of this principle. Hmm.
The article also has some hints about how JPG's website was built, taking advantage of new Web services such as Amazon.com's S3.
We think of Amazon.com as a retailer, but it's unveiled some powerful new web services that can make it possible for disruptive new Web 2.0 sites to be developed:
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables massive online data storage and simple HTTP delivery in a "cloud," in which you pay only for the storage and bandwidth you use. This makes it possible for a video site, for example, to grow rapidly without having to manage the planning, investment and project management processes associated with adding storage arrays.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) extends this principle to computing processes. You can configure a virtual server image -- starting with a Fedora Linux base -- that includes all your applications and configuration. To add a server, you simply place an electronic order through a web services API. Absolutely all of the server setup processes from then on are automated. Your servers are up and running within minutes.
Pricing on both is cheap and tied directly to what you use. Need more servers? Start them up. Need fewer? Release the resources to the grid.
The disruption will kick in as entrepreneurs imagine new ways to use this power.
It's not just about running webservers. Think video transcoding. CGI rendering. Engineering computations. A university could configure an on-demand scalable parallel computing farm for scientific modeling. Since it's all done on a machine-hour basis, 100 machines could work for one hour instead of 1 machine for 100 hours. This doesn't apply to all classes of problems, but many new doors are opened.