This article focuses on a failing of Java to become the standard for rich internet applications. The title says it all, "How and Why AJAX, Not Java, Became the Favored Technology for RIAs." Some may say it's a shame, others may rejoice. But the fact that we see such an article points to a growing trend on the web of Rich Internet Applications. Just check out the Google Web Toolkit for some validation of this phenomenon.
I did some research in this field while getting my MEng at Cornell University. And in fact have a paper awaiting publication in 16th International World Wide Web Conference that came out of that research (the second such paper, the first was in the proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of Data). So I think this trend is pretty exciting.
If you're interested in what that research is up to these days check out The Hilda Project. I know I'm still interested in what my colleagues are up to.
And if you're interested in Cornell University, consider this quote I just got in an email from a friend.
For me, there's nothing worse than not having a challenge or not working to your fullest capacity. I think this is also worse when you come from a place like Cornell where you can flat out give your best efforts until you drop and they still want more.