I was thinking of this today was I head up to the Web 2.0 Expo in SF. Quite often we preoccupy ourselves with answering the simple question “what do I want…” in technical terms, as in more semantic web stuff, interoperable identity, and so on. What if we simply answer the what I want question in the context of the impact we would like to experience. The excerpt linked below is from a post in VentureBlog from 2004:
1. Over the last five to seven years has technology increased or decreased your personal productivity?
2. Increased or decreased your overall quality of life?
3. Strengthened or weakened your interpersonal and family relationships?
Answering these questions today I would say “increased, increased, strengthened” and that is indeed something to highlight. While technology is not perfect, it is working and represents an essential component in our collective and individual lives.
Having said that, there is more to do, I can’t help but observe that we have gone through yet another technology generation, web 2.0 now stretching out to the end of the usual 6-7 year tech cycle, and the great brands of the last generation of still successful but not the primary drivers of the next.
Microsoft has an impressive portfolio of services (I’m using Live Search and liking it) but they are reacting to the market, not driving it. Same with Google and Yahoo, and in the enterprise software sector the crickets are chirping. I wrote a post a few weeks ago on incrementalism that received a lot of feedback from people who were feeling much the same way. There is anticipation for something new to emerge that isn’t just a turn of the screw on something else.
So rather than hearing about what new technology and hot company I should be watching at this week’s Web 2 Expo, I want to state the question another way.
- I want technology that is pervasive but obscured, in other words I don’t want to have to think about it in order to use it.
- I want applications and services that don’t force me into Faustian bargains that require me to give up my privacy in order to benefit from them.
- Give me advertising and promotion that has utility for me, that does something productive while at the same time fulfilling the advertising objective.
- Give me use-anywhere-any-time.
- Most of all, stop talking about what you do and tell me what you will do for me.
What do you want from the next generation of the web?