The New Order of the Web

The web is becoming a platform for participation rather than a medium for delivery.

I have been writing for some time about the Internet at a crossroads (e.g. Search at a crossroads). That crossroads is the evolution of the Internet. it is not here by grand design but by evolution itself. The web has morphed into a huge ‘small world network’, connecting services, applications, people, places, ideas and knowledge in unforeseen ways.

Peter Hershberg managing partner of Reprise Media, points out that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook all started out with simple objectives and have evolved to something much more:

“YouTube started as a service that allowed people to post videos but has since become the de facto place people turn to when they want to find video content on any subject imaginable. Twitter started as a way to issue personal status updates to your friends, but is morphing into a search engine that allows you to tap into the now – what’s going on now? What’s the groundswell of sentiment around a topic? Facebook began as a way to see more information about people you were going to school with. Now it’s become a way for friends to share interests by becoming Fans of brands and lifestyles and posting articles, opinions and information”.

This evolution has created a network, never conceived and still not defined. It is a work in progress. But it is clear that form, function, process and context have changed and all parts are merging almost at the speed of thought

Web design and marketing, once about ensuring that people could find your website, is now also about your website finding people. It’s about reaching out to people where they already are, i.e., participating in a personal social network. It’s about adding value by interacting with these networks of people in a meaningful way.

There are over 400,000 independent developers building Facebook applications to harness this. One is Oodle, who helped Facebook with their marketplace classified ads application. I used it recently to list my house for rent and within a week it could have been rented twice.

At AXSES, we have built our travel platform into a Facebook application. It allows arcRes users to publish specials as well as rates and web content to Facebook. All this information on Facebook as well as the ability to get holiday quotes and to book, is managed from the arcRes admin system which also manages information on the user’s website and a network of other marketing channels. Facebook is a different type of channel; one where meaningful participation and shared knowledge is the driving force.

Ian R. Clayton, AXSES

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