The Idea Dude

CONNECTING THE DOTS ONE AT A TIME

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The future web where everybody is control

Seems like nostalgia is the order of this week in my world. I found an old interview by Businessweek with Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability. Peter tells us to ask three questions when building websites.

  • Can people find your website?
  • Can they find their way around your website?
  • Can they find your content, products and services despite your website?

We get so caught up today whether edges are round or smooth, or whether there is video or not, dare I say, Web 2.0'ish that we forget some of the most basic tenets to good usability.

Peter's correct in that if people can't find you, whether you're good or bad doesn't matter. Findability is an issue, with so many web and blog pages out there. Getting what you want fast is a problem unless you're in a very narrow niche or a have fine-tuned your sense of search like an Internet bloodhound.

Our current and future Web generations both help create and solve this problem. They create the problem by being content generators at an unprecedented scale. By the same token, they can equally balance this by mass collaboration.

In the past, we use products to find people (aka yellow pages), today we use people to find products (eBay, Amazon, MySpace) etc.

The hardest question today and tomorrow is where to find authority amongst this morass of information. The problem is no longer too little information or too little choice, but rather too much of it.

We went from taxonomies, to ontologies and now folksonomies i.e. organized by the people for the people. Like Peter, I believe it is a combination of all of the above. Creating straight hierarchies in taxonomies is too limiting. Ontologies and semantic nets are great except like Esperanto, believing in a universal and ubiquitous description and tagging system is naive (at least in the short or medium). Folksononmies and wikis have shown that mass collaboration is a much faster way of organizing knowledge providing your sources are trusted and credible.

Knowledge management is not unlike government, ie. we need to allow the people enough freedom and creativity to innovate, organize and advance. At the same time, we need sufficient control to ensure we're all headed in the right direction.

For example no-one relies solely on a doctor's diagnosis these days without consulting some online information resource or community and at the same time, only the foolish believe they can heal themselves without consulting a doctor.

The communities that are going to be successful in the future will be those that combine the ability to amalgamate raw information with community recommendation specifically for your context.

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