A few (social) questions

November 23, 2010

The web has always been about sharing. In the pre web days bulletin boards were among the first attempts to create a spot where one could share and learn from other people. The early websites were means to post and basicly simple ways to point and share. With too many websites to look at and consume, GOOG launched Pagerank, in essence also a tool to share, because it was based upon and inspired by the work that had been done on the citation index. GOOG became the place to be and the race between the rankers and the people who wanted to end up high(er) in the ranking started. The web grew and grew.

People started to find new ways to share. Blogging still is a wonderful way to learn and share.  Tools like addthis and sharethis popped up and were embraced by users and publishers alike in no time. And of course there are digg and delicious. Social bookmarking, sharing, adding, liking. Again and again new ways to point to quality content on the web were introduced.

This morning I came across an interesting piece at The Economist about the growth of TV in China. A sentence on the use of internet by the young in Shanghai was interesting enough for me to post a tweet. I pushed the wrong button and entered this list of tools provided to post/share/bookmark/add provided by addthis. An amazing list of 316 tools to spread the news that this interesting article is worthwhile. I know for sure that this is not even the correct number anymore. In my last count addthis provided moren than 350 services and tools.

Boy, we now even need tools to help us decide what tools and services to choose in order to share. Of course some services stand out from the crowd and gather a huge fan base, while others will disappear into oblivion. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

The point I am trying to make is that we need to ask ourselves questions while we enter the realm of social content and maybe even the web of people.  The last few weeks, as we indeed seem to be moving into a more social web, a few questions came to my mind.

Just a few questions.

I hope you don’t mind me asking.

Web of people

November 22, 2010

Last week I got another chance to listen to Andrew Keen, one of my favourite thinkers on issues concerning the web and beyond. Andrew spoke to students in Amsterdam and to the question what web 3.0 meant, he responded: ‘social and mobile’.

Back at the office, I did a bit of research and came across this interview at Techcrunch TV. Andrew interviewed Marc Davis, former chief scientist at Yahoo, who recently joined Microsoft. Andrew and Marc talked about the 3rd wave in technology. The third wave of course is a reminder of the book Alvin Toffler published in 1981, but was recently again used by John Doerr of KPCB to explain his $250.000.000 investment in a new social media fund. In John’s view the first wave was the PC and  the 2nd wave was the web. The third wave is going to be social and mobile.

Marc Davis commented by explaining we are in the middle of a shift from the web of pages to the web of people. I like to describe the changes we see today in these terms. It is again all about ‘we the people’, instead of ‘they the machines’.

Social networks and social tools have been around for a while, but the last few months we can actually see some changes in human behaviour. News gets around via tweets and likes. News is becoming a social news stream. Again, by the way, not launched by newspapers.

Search is getting more and more social. Microsoft made a good move in joining Facebook, or was it the other way around? Of course GOOG is experimenting with social search as well.

IBM invested quite a bit in making Lotus Connections a collection of usable social tools for the enterprise. This week Lotus Connections 3 will be launched. Check it out. The new version will include even social analytics.

And of course there is Dachis Group, a new company started by Jeff Dachis, during web 1.0 one of the founders of Razorfish. Backed with ample funds Jeff rolled out an international firm in no time, acquiring a set of very interesting firms, including the wonderful boutique Xplane. They want to establish a new kind of consultancy, focus on Social Business Design and ‘help companies reinvent themselves into dynamic, socially calibrated organizations that gain constant value from their ecosystem of connections’.

I think that’s a great idea, since most businesses indeed have to reinvent themselves these days. The timing looks pretty perfect as well. If scientists and thinkers agree on the next wave, the money is pouring in, the social tools and (enterprise) software are widely available and people actually prefer to use these tools to share, it’s time to start a new company.

I certainly would like to see a web of people.

Paying off?

November 5, 2010

Today I discovered a few interesting facts in this recently released report on global internet trends.

  • Data consumption for real-time entertainment usage surpasses web browsing in the US.
  • Netflix alone constitutes more than 20% of downstream traffic.
  • P2P traffic in Europe is declining again.
  • Households with fixed lines in Asia Pacific consume 3 times more data than their US counterparts.
  • Skype is popular, but in Europe mostly.
  • Europeans watch a lot of soccer on the Chinese web tv platform PPLive.

Facts are facts, especially when the data can be measured, as in this case.

But it is more interesting of course to ask the right questions.

  • Why are Europeans more active browsing the web then Americans?
  • Is the US web turning into a sort of new TV?
  • Are anti download policies and actions really paying off for content industries in Europe?

Action Packed

November 3, 2010

In a few days time Web 2.0 Summit 2010 will take place. This time producers Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle came up with the theme Points of Control. The Battle for the Network Economy.  A very interesting map has been made to portray the global internet landscape and the strategic moves of the most ambitious players. We sure have seen some interesting moves in the industry and I find the map real usefull.

One of these recent strategic moves has been made by John Battelle himself. Besides acting as co-producer for the Web 2.0 Summit, John wrote the first impressive book on GOOG, is a very regular blogger and is founder, chairman and ceo of Federated Media, an interesting company trying to connect expert bloggers with advertising dollars. FM recently bought a semantic profiling technology platform from Textdigger, a semantic search company. Interesting and promising move for this 5 year old company.

In the ongoing quest for new ways to combat infobesity a serious newcomer took the stage this week. You really should check out blekk0. The founders all have an impressive career in Search and have been working for the last three years on this new approach to Search.

And of course there was the long awaited new book of Kevin Kelly, who spends a lot of his time lately on studying the move to new forms of reading, a subject I’m interested in as well as you know. In his new book Kelly puts forth a unique view of technology as a living, evolving entity, which he calls ‘the Technium’. This thing (beast, monster, movement?) wants to grow and improve. It uses people as its agents. Be warned, so to speak.

This week also saw the birth of Libroid, a new program that tries to reboot the ebook for the interactive age, offering readers the possibility of potentially limitless content with every publication.

And then there is the news form WordPress, my very own personal publishing platform. Take a look at FoodPress. It is the blog host’s first foray into aggregating content written by its users. FoodPress wants to become the “go-to destination for the hottest dishes from WordPress.com bloggers” and in order to do so, the company has partnered with Federated Media (they have been busy…..).

And for all of us who think that cyberspace is the place to be, let’s not forget that in Real Time things happen as well. The US election days, several Government Debt Auctions around the world, FOMC Statement and budget votes in Portugal.

Action packed it will be for a while.