Monday, February 25, 2008

Web Cubed

We are seeing a burst of activity from social platforms. Although they have become the talk of 2007, they are inevitably here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Where will they take us and what will be next are the two major questions I have been thinking about lately.

I try to look at where the web is going from a different perspective, so here are some rambling thoughts.

China, India and Latin American countries will dominate the next generation of web applications and companies. We (being US/ Anglophones) have greatly ignored these communities to date.

Although we are seeing a rise in tailored websites/communities targeting these massive cultures and languages, I am too far removed to see what the current companies are in place that serve this segement of the world ( over 4 billion people).

I want to see someone become the superpower of all superpowers that will enable us to all communicate across all platforms and languages. Right now I have no idea what the top web companies are in India or what the best social platform is in China. Spanish speaking countries have their own communities and cultures too, which unless I either spoke Spanish fluently, lived abroad or had many spanish speaking friends than I would not be able to connect with these companies/start-ups and phenomenon.

I only know a couple of things have spread beyond US soil. To my surprise, facebook is exceptionally popular in Denmark and most of Europe. I only know this because I have worked/been good friends with young Brits, Frenchies, Germans and Danes. However, I look at a company like Bebo and for whatever reason it did not spread in the US to great popularity, yet in the UK its a hit. On this same note, there must be equivalent web companies in Shanghai, Mexico City and Delhi that cater to young social networks that are very popular and unheard of in metropolitan New York City.

The next web will bridge this gap.

I have read some comments that mobile is the next big thing. As far as I know, its already here. Its not the technology that will be making the future, but how we choose to use it in our daily lives.

I like CouchSurfing.com because no matter where you travel to in the world there is someone with an internet connection, a spare sofa and an interesting conversation to be had. This network provides a refuge for the world adventurer. I was able to contact people while in Tbilisi (Repbulic of Georgia) and in Trabzon (Turkey) very easily and efficiently because this network saw across channels. The barrier for entry was minimal at most (email address, couch, access to a computer to check email). Knowledge of English to fill in the fields varies depending on the user, but its amazing how you can interact with someone in person without speaking a word of their mother tongue (my Georgian is worthless).

Providing a means of expanding knowledge is the most important technology that can or will exist. The potential is endless.

I hope to see more companies move into the void of creating international communities where language is not the major barrier for entry. Forums where we can communicate without having to speak spanish, japanese or english to extract information.