After I wrote my earlier post called “The flaws in web 2.0 and how to correct them” I was surprised by the really positive replies and also the quality of the discussion that seems to have been triggered by it. There are some really smart people thinking and writing about the current state of web 2.0. Let me provide a quick summary of the responses and then proceed into deepening this discussion.
Chris Clark told me I was missing the point as he correctly points out that web 2.0 isn’t just about Facebook or MySpace. Web 2.0 has provided companies a way to have meaningful discussions with their customers leveraging technologies such as Wiki’s, Blogs. He also mentioned that user generated content is becoming to rival the quality of in house productions. Chris, you are right of course. I focused in my post on the user perspective, but if you turn it around and look at a company’s perspective, then things have definitely become better.
Kirill Bolgarov agreed with most of the things I said and states that “those who rule the party of social networking are smart enough to somehow force the evolution of the networks into something more like what you have described..”. Kirill, I believe that these changes will evolve from users turning away from closed networks to more open networks, and by service creators that will ultimately understand what’s really important
Jordan Mitchell states that “my sentiment is that the problem is that social networking really ought to be a feature of the Web rather than a destination”. He also feels that the people web should be a different layer from the content web. Jordan, I like that thought. It enforces openness, instead of walled garden social networks.
Rian agrees with me on my statement that we aren’t getting as much value out of a social network but has a very different approach on why that is the case. He argues that the network is the need, but that current user experiences doesn’t allow them to tap the full potential of their networks. He suggests that in an open social network the trick becomes how to identify the most important actors and tap into the benefits related to them. He writes smart things, check out his earlier posts on the matter. Rian, although I agree with your analysis that it would be beneficial to let users become more aware of relationships in order to tap into the useful resources, I also feel that it still addresses only one aspect of the equation, me finding other interesting people. But true interaction is not just about me finding things, it is also about me giving something valuable to the network. Professionally I might be interested to find many smart people that think about changing web 2.0 into something better, and interact with them (as we do now!). At home I will be more interested in interaction with my friends and family, a much smaller group of people. No need here to have a large network, just simple and elegant ways to be interacting with them across all the possibilities on the web.
Rolf Skyberg wrote an excellent post in reply to mine called “Trancending my human limitations through the web“. He not only wrote very nice things about my blog (thank you!), but also stresses the point that humans love to interact. Internet supports that with things like relative permanence, instant perception and near-boundless audiences. But social networks suck at it. Why? Rolf states it’s money. If you give a product away for free there is always a monetizing scheme which provides the companies with a strong incentive to build a closed large network. The solution for the user of course lies in a large OPEN network. Rolf, I agree with you on this. It is precisely for this reason I find the possible Microsoft investment in Facebook a very risky strategy. it will increase ad pressure on the user, and they won’t like it a bit.
So how about taking this discussion one step further? Can we use the positive energy and smart thinking around us to draw up a high level design of a new web? I’d rather not call it web 3.0 (tacky right?). It would be an interesting experiment to see if we can come up with some great idea’s that might help service creators to develop services that are adding true value to the user. We would need to consider human needs first, then go into the ways of supporting those needs using tools and technologies. But we also should be thinking about monetizing it in such a way that the user and the service creator and advertiser benefit from it (there is no such thing as a free lunch right?). If there is enough need for it I would suggest we all start writing some articles about it the coming weeks. Let’s see what happens with it. I will give it a go and try to write a post on it once a week. Now all we need is a catchy title, something that will inspire us to write. How about “Design of an Open Social Interaction Network”? I’m open to better alternatives, post them in the comments section and we can see if we can improve on this.
Good luck, and let’s surprise each other with some excellent posts on the “Design of an Open Social Interaction Network”. Hope some of you out there like this experiment and join in.