The third session at Nexus 2007, “The Future of the Web”, was led by a fascinating presentation by Andreas Weigend, former Chief Scientist of Amazon.com. He spoke about Chris Anderson’s Long Tail (Wired magazine, Oct 2004) as well as the following futures:
Future of the individual – From e-business to me-business, and from eco-system to ego-system. Future of the group – Collaborative architectures from maintenance of relationships (eg Facebook, Linked-In, Ringo) to discovery (fridae.com for gays/lesbians).
Future of work – Disaggregation of the workplace.
Andreas shared further how the serendipitous act of discovery is taking over from the more task-oriented search function, and the advent of meta-data (or tags) as the basis for discovery. It centred on how web applications like Flickr shifts photography from events-based to “aimless-based”. What one might also call the degree of “interestingness”.
The group next discussed how information gathered from diverse sources such as RFIDs and cookies (not the Famous Amos kinds!) may lead to even greater mass-customisation. OpenID, one of the current hot topics, allows a person to access multiple web applications with a single sign in. However, it may also lead to possible abuses in privacy and identity theft.
Nonetheless, this potent mix of location-based services with personalised preferences could represent a whole new market for mobile broad-band services. An example was how Amazon was working with Federal Express to provide real-time information to its consumers on the whereabouts of their products – a stitching together of services. Integration of social networks with mobile broadband can certainly be a powerful combination.
The other topic covered was the “power of thumbs down” or how greater transparency in the web leads to a stronger voice for the consumer. Walmart’s fiasco with its partner Edelman was highlighted as well as an interesting UK-based site for parliamentarians. Another interesting example was castingvote.com which lets you vote on practically anything and everything – politics, music, lifestyle, tech.
If that’s what the future holds, it certainly sounds like an egalitarian paradise to me.