After the dark years of the internet (2000-2004) there certainly has been a remarkable comeback. So what was it that has made the difference? A culmination I think:
1. Broadband – only in the past few years have there been enough people on the internet with broadband that have made the richer applications like YouTube, Writely (now Google Docs), iTunes, podcasting, video blogging etc really accessible.
2. Firefox – the browser that changed the web. I never really understood what difference a browser could make, or what the real tech geeks at work were on about when they were getting hot under the collar about tabbed browsing. Now it all makes sense.
The ability to develop and use Extensions that integrate with social applications – like del.icio.us, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon has fuelled massive adoption of these services. Imagine your browsing experience without Firefox – without Extensions.
I think that we are still only at the beginning of the ‘web as a platform’ – and the catalyst? Giving power to the people by letting innovation, creativity and utility meet in the browser through the little things like Extensions. Wait until the mighty corporate market wakes up to the power of ‘distributed content’ and ‘opportunity presentation’ using Opera and Mac Widgets, Google Panels, and Firefox Extensions.
This leads back to an adage I’ve used over the past 8 years – ‘insert your content in your customers daily activity’.
3. Shifting the Power Base – closely linked to the above point. By harnessing the collective power of the web users, special things have been created. Think social news sites, blogging, open source software, and most importantly, open source thinking that have made this era in the life of the internet so different to the past. When Tim O’Reilly coined the Web2.0 moniker – that was only just the beginning. We are still only fractionally beyond the beginning. I can’t wait for the times ahead.
The incumbents in the telecoms, utility, media and advertising worlds are (or should be) very aware and weary of the power shifting to the edges of the network – and them not being able to exert the control that they are used to from a central point. The likes of Telkom, Vodacom and SABC will continue to see their positions of power being eroded as disruptive technologies and significantly – disruptive consumers & customers, competitors, applications & software and disruptive thinking leads to innovations that leave them isolated with large expensive infrastructures, dissatisfied customers and declining revenues.
4. Google – some credit has to go to Google for making the web a different place. Fresh thinking, amazing search results, simple interfaces, and a coolness have all come at exactly the right time for the web resurrection.
The final thought – all of the above are governed by the law of abundance. I just hope that it stays this way – so that this amazing thing can continue to change the way we learn, play, work and live.
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