Web 2.0 Communities: Trends & Technologies

Last Friday, at the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 conference, I joined a great panel to talk about “Web 2.0 Communities”. Fellow panelists were Dave Galvan, VP Business Development at Topix, Mark Josephson, CEO at Outside.in and Mike Orren, Founder and President at Pegasus News. We talked about what made Web 2.0 communities great and some of the trends surrounding our ecosystem.

I had put together some notes for that presentation about current trends and technologies and I’d like to share them with you in this post.

In trends, I see things like:

  1. The Web is becoming more and more social. I think that one is fairly evident to anyone who’s ever played with Facebook or blogged. Interacting with your “friends” and leveraging the wisdom of crowd create a much more fun Internet experience than 10 years ago. What this means also is that the users are becoming more powerful. Surrender to them as “resistance is futile”
  2. The Web is becoming more and more local. I know instinctively that the whole Web will become local at some point. Browsers will have geo-detection technologies embedded inside them (see Mozilla’s Geode). Companies like Skyhook Wireless already offer browser plug-ins as well (see Loki).
    But what crystallized this point for me was this blog post from Matt McGee ” 8 Social Media Sites for Local Networking ” In it, Matt shows the local component of various social media sites. I’m not sure Facebook thinks of itself has being a local media but I sure do. In the future, I believe these local backdoors will be the front door through which we access social media
    content. The whole Web site will still be available but as an option.
  3. The Web is becoming more and more fragmented. This creates atomized content and atomized business models.
  4. Atomized content means we now live in a content aggregation and curation world. Use your trusted brand to filter good content from bad content for users.
  5. Trust is becoming more important in a social world. Identity as well. Who do you trust most? Man or Machine? Media brands or your friends?
  6. Mobile devices (smart phones, iPhone, etc.) and new devices (GPS, Kindle, wifi-enabled game consoles, etc.) means new place to display your content but new context as well. Make sure you’re present when the installed based is large enough. But this also contributes to fragmentation.
  7. The Web is becoming more structured (tags, micro-formats). More structure means better relevancy. Get ready for the semantic Web.

In emerging technologies/standards, I see things like:

  1. APIs. Your content/functionality becomes a building block for other projects.
  2. The general user experience is becoming simpler and more like software interfaces. When designing a new interface, think “Can I simplify this?”.
  3. Social networking standards are arriving. The Facebook platform, OpenSocial, DiSo, Buddypress. Make sure you’re compatible with those guys.
  4. Sharing. Companies/Individuals now share much more with the rest of the Web. Creative commons and the open source movement are clear signs of that.
  5. Identity/Connectivity. Standards like OpenID, Facebook Connect and oAuth are leading the way there. Make sure you’re aware that those exists. Your users might start requesting them.

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