web 2.0

to think big, you need to think small…

Posted on September 30, 2006. Filed under: web 2.0 |

I’ve been thinking about the web 2.0 scene a lot recently, mainly because i’ve been talking to a lot of friends who aren’t in the web scene. the last few weeks have been incredibly hectic for boso, raising investment and now deciding what to do with it has been a tough challenge (but still one i’m loving!). as a result i’ve been somewhat caught up in my own bubble, especially since i’ve made much more of an effort to subscribe to as many web rss feeds as i can, so when you mention ajax or kiko to a group of friends who respond by staring at you blankly it is quite a wake up call.

when you’re in the web scene it is very easy to become completely wrapped up in it. you begin thinking that if a website isn’t hosted on ruby on rails it’s prob a waste of your time. you find yourself being instantly wowed when you see ajax on a site – regardless of whether it actually serves any point. whilst these things are very cool, i really do think they are indicative of another bubble forming. some of these web 2.0 companies attract huge valuations but i really do find myself wondering – who outside of the web 2.0 scene actually cares? for example Digg sounds fantastic in theory, but when you consider that there is still a large sector of the population who don’t understand the concept of an rss feed can you really justify its huge valuations?

what i’m really trying to say is that when all is stripped down, the internet is just another medium of communicating information. i know that sounds incredibly obvious but i think it is easy to lose sight of that fact. i see it in myself, i start looking at websites from the perspective of someone who is heavily involved in the web scene. ultimately though, the success of companies is not built upon the interest of a few but on the love of many. when you look at something like myspace, you really can understand why it justifies the huge price tage it was bought out for. recently when i was in san francisco, i saw graffiti on walls which ended with a myspace address. that really said it all to me – in order to be hugely successful you need to have all sectors of society interested in your product, otherwise you are only ever going to be attractive to the people working in the same bubble as you are. eventually when that bubble pops, you’re left with nothing.

i don’t want to come across as being overly negative, i do believe that the web 2.0 movement has an incredible amount of power to change things for the better. however from an entrepreneurs perspective, i think it is incredibly important to look at your product from the perspective of the average joe. before you build in something you think is very cool or innovative because it uses ajax, ask yourself whether joe bloggs on the street would actually find it useful? i think this provides a good explanation for kiko – it was ultimately a very cool tool for people who love online calendars and ajax but how many joe bloggs would have known that kiko existed? how many of them would even consider using an online calendar at all? i think there are some important lessons to be learnt as the web 2.0 movement gains some serious traction.

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the new facebook

Posted on September 30, 2006. Filed under: web 2.0 |

It has been less than a day but the new facebook interface already seems to have caused a pretty big stir. there is already an “official” facebook petition to get the feature removed (http://oxford.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2208288769) with over 8,000 people signed up already – there are several other spin off groups. i had a big debate with kul about this in the office today (if you’re looking for a different point of view then take a look at his blog but i have to say i think that facebook has gone a step too far this time.

i know facebook argue that the information is all available on facebook anyway i.e. they are not displaying any new info but just what is already there in a more efficient way. however i dont agree with that analysis – in my view there is an inbuilt barrier to entry in facebook. let’s say that i want to find out about someone, i need to do some digging e.g. reading wall posts and seeing new photos. to me that is what facebook is all about, it’s the ultimate procrastination tool because you can play detective and blissfully watch the hours roll by as you click all over the place. with the new interface however, as soon as you log on you instantly see a ton of information – which although useful info, is not something i think is best suited as being the first page you see when you log in.

with facebook i think it is necessary to distinguish the dual roles that each user plays – that of the stalker and that of the user. as a stalker i love the new interface as it makes my stalking more efficient. from a user perspective though, i will certainly be a lot more cautious in my behaviour. if i change my relationship status to single i don’t want all of my friends to see it! similarly if i happen to be incredibly bored and write on 10 walls in 5 minutes, i don’t want my page displaying to the world just how sad i am!

either way the one thing that can’t be debated is facebook’s willingness to innovate. ultimately if they decide they have gone too far this time around, they can just edit the service to give you better privacy control. i’m delighted that facebook never just sit on their huge market penetration and act all smug. they’re an inspiration to young internet companies around the world.

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eBay facing problems

Posted on September 30, 2006. Filed under: web 2.0 |

I just read this pretty interesting article about ebay’s declining popularity. I don’t think eBay will be losing too much sleep just yet as i’m still sure they can afford pretty comfortable beds but it does make me wonder about online trading in general. I’ve been thinking for a while that auctioning is quite ineffective and lacks efficiency. will be interesting to see how this develops.

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