Farewell Web 2.0?

The sheen of Web 2.0 is fading. People have laid their claim on the next ‘version’ – 3.0. See how our thinking is so linear. Why are we forcing ourselves to believe, and in retrospect, that there was something called Web 1.0! Isn’t that how versioning happens?

I’d rather have called it Web-as-a-Platform (WaaP) because that’s really what it is.

My reasoning is simply that by ‘componentising’ the Web we have created –

  1. a way for individuals and groups to ‘talk’ to the world and to each other in ‘open spaces’;
  2. collaborative software to capture, exchange and share collective ideas and ideologies;
  3. a philosophy where people can improve upon – or add value – to other people’s efforts; and
  4. less dependence on technology ‘consultants’.

What I have yet not been able to see is the ‘meta’ part of the phenomenon. Call it Web-as-a-Vehicle (WaaV) – likened to a mass transportation system and not a car. I might call it Meta-more-for-less (sounds like metamorphosis). We need a hard look quickly at how to design the interfaces (if they do exist) between the existing technology components or we run the risk of building yet another set of ‘silos’ made up of existing Web 2.0 pieces. Which in simple terms means bridging the “gap in capability” between the ‘individual’ creating the content and the techie who built the component.

Google’s Chief economist, Hal Varian, says executives in wired organisations need a sharper understanding of how technology empowers innovation, here.

… the kinds of innovations I think will arise on top of that will be innovations in how work is done. And that’s going to be one of the most exciting aspects, in my opinion.

That’s the key here. How work is done must supersede how things work.

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Business as ‘social’?

Young people interacting within society.

Image via Wikipedia

A few months ago, a journalist friend asked for my view on What would motivate technopreneurs to consider building businesses around social technologies?”

My answer …

Building businesses around social technologies is like attempting to achieve the ideals of Communism using the methods of Capitalism. Look at the open source movement. It is not hard to guess why it has gained the status of a movement. The clues to countering the monolithic tendencies of technology builders are evidenced by the success of the open source philosophy. What it clearly shows is that power centres can and will be dismantled, it will be

less by the hunger for the power to own and more by the willingness to belong;

less by the striving for independence and more for the mutual value of interdependence;

less by the aggression of competition and more by the power of collaboration.

Golaiths beware the Davids are here to stay. The proof is Web 2.0. Here’s to the new wine and to the new bottle as well. 

There’s little value in prefixing the word ‘Social’ to media, networking, technologies, welfare or any other word. Wordplay sounds nice, looks good in a presentation and creates great news hooks. ‘Social’ has to do with society – a particular society. And society is shaped by people that have passion, conviction and a sense of urgency.

Technology is merely a toolbox for social change and technopreneurs must take it as their duty to identify the value that their ‘products’ will provide to those who will use them to positively transform and sustainably impact society as a whole.

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Cynicism 101 – Does India need Facebook?

I know nothing about sex because I was always married. – Zsa Zsa Gabor

With due respect – and with a slight twist while keeping the flavour: 

We know everything about social networking because we were never social.

I’d like to dedicate my quote to all social networking initiatives, sites, professionals and users. (And by the way, I too have memberships of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).

First, a bunch of disclaimers:
1. If it creates controversy, great. It is meant to. If it provokes your intelligence and emotions; and punctures your ego, my job is done. It is intended to.
2. I have no intention here to suggest ‘mine-is-better-than-yours’ OR that Indian culture is any better than others.
3. This is not a patriotic or a political rambling. So please read between the lines. (If you read only with your eyes, white space is all you’ll see).
4. This post is an ‘equal opportunity, equal responsibility’ piece. Me included.

My thesis is simple. India does NOT need Facebook.   Continue reading

Innovation 101: Executive Dashboards 2.0

Welcome to my trinary era. Call it binary 2.0. I have a reason to do so and a good one at that. Because I plan to write a book titled Web 2.0 101 which will discuss the new thinking required to innovate – even to survive – in post-Industrial times.

Take for example the Executive Dashboard. When I transpose Web 2.0 philosophies coupled with FoS, it makes all our BI companies look Jurassic. I’m not KlipFolio - a Desktop Dashboardtalking about creating snazzy animated callouts or jazzing up interactions. I’m talking about individualization and making the technology pieces completely invisible.

Shown here is a fine example of a customizable, desktop dashboard from Serence, that epitomizes Web 2.0 dashboard design. No more static fuel-gauge graphics that confuse the user more than providing the quick overview s\he’s looking for.

So what’s this whole fuss all about? Pabini Gabriel-Petit‘s excellent book review of Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data underlines the direction –

… while today’s business intelligence (BI) software vendors have developed technologies that can gather data from disparate sources, transform data into more usable forms, store huge repositories of data in high-performance databases, and present data in the form of reports, “we have made little progress in using that information effectively.”

One part of the problem is in accurately visualizing ‘what’ needs to be presented and the remaining parts are in understanding ‘how’ each business user needs to see information, critical to the role s\he’s performing in an organisation, so that decision responses are timely.

The aspect of innovation I’m touching upon requires that we bring a width of knowledge – user psychology, state of technology, business understanding, data visualization – and ‘right’-brain thinking (pun is intentional) into the equation rather than the Industrial R&D mindsets and processes.

Innovation is perhaps the best example of a mashup.

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