wasting bandwidth since 1999

Sharing the Small Stuff

Although it seems like they’ve alway been around, Google is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this month.

To celebrate, the people who write the Official Google Blog asked ten of the company’s top experts to speculate on the next ten years of the internet.

Specifically, “[h]ow will this phenomenal technology evolve, how will we adapt, and (more importantly) how will it adapt to us?”.

The first entry addresses how the web can bring people closer together.

The promise of the social web is about making it easy to share the small stuff — to make it effortless and rebuild that feeling of connectedness that comes from knowing the details. My wife recently sent out a public Picasa Web Album of baby photos to ten of her friends. Four of them wrote back saying “I didn’t know Joe got a new car?!” (her friends browsed through my other public photo albums). While she would never hesitate to share the big event (new baby), she never would have shared the small detail of me getting a new car. This kind of thing is repeated again and again. The small details are left out. A weekend with Grandma and Grandpa? Thinking about selling my house? Are these things all “worth” sharing? Maybe. Sometimes. For some people.

Fortunately, as the web becomes more social, I won’t have to spend as much energy thinking about what’s “interesting enough” to share with a certain group. The people who care about me and that I allow will increasingly be able to tune in to the parts of my life that interest them.

Of course all of this will require tools that are far more ubiquitous and easy to use. Or relatives and friends who are willing to become as connected as I am.

1 Comment

  1. Dave

    It’s fun that Google is posting these, but this one is dreadfully long and somewhat barren of content. Is “writing for the web” somewhere in Google’s vision of the future?

    I think his point could be said much simpler: the future is combining online social networks with other social networks, both offline and online.

    I don’t quite agree, but he’s close. The next evolution of the web is to incorporate “trust” into ranking web content. For example, the reviews on apartment rating sites are interesting, but there’s no way to know which ones were posted by the apartment’s manager or the manager of the complex next door. By attaching existing social networks to tools like this, users can specify that they want the opinions of their trusted friends (and their trusted friends, and their trusted friends) to matter more than random comments from unknown people.

    Google is piloting this right now, letting some users give ratings or post comments on search results. The problem is that they can’t open this up totally, because people will game the system. If you can attach those same features to a social network, then it’s doable.

    Right now, one of the biggest things holding back the web is that Google doesn’t have access (yet) to a massive English-speaking social network. Facebook is way too closed, is tied to Microsoft, etc. MySpace is too personal, LinkedIn is too professional. Google talks about OpenSocial, but everyone’s already happy with their Facebook/blog/twitter setup, so it’s going to be crazy difficult to build a new network like that.

    So, Google has to acquire Twitter. And that’s the future of the Internet.

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