One of the buzz terms flying around at the moment is RIA (Rich Internet Applications). Put briefly, this is the sort of application that would previously have had to be installed locally on a users machine, but can now be run in a browser. I suppose Turning the Pages is a RIA (as opposed to a ria, which I seem to remember is a drowned river valley...).
In one sense this is nothing new. Shockwave and Flash developers would claim they've been building these sorts of things for years. So what's changed?
Well one is the potential hybrid approach whereby data can be stored locally or on a web server, another is the amount of bandwidth and storage that is now cheaply available to deliver these sorts of apps, and another is the tools that are emerging.
When Adobe launches it's AIR platform, Microsoft launches Silverlight, and even Director/Shockwave gets a first new release for 4 years, all in the space of a month, you know something is up.
A compelling platform to deliver all sorts of collection assets, image, audio, video, 3D with a friction-free and engaging user interface opens up exciting possibilities for libraries and museums. Especially when you can hook it into your existing digital asset management system.
One thing comes back to haunt me though, and that is the number of appalling websites that appeared when developers got hold of Flash for the first time.
With great power comes great responsibility.