Now that a majority of folks have come to the conclusion that Web 2.0 is in the final chapter (whether or not I agree with it is an entirely new post), the discussion has started to heat up towards the the next big thing. Some call it the data web, the semantic web or web30. Web20 was about harness the crowd (the wisdom of the crowds) and gaining from the cream of the data. To me the next big thing is the what I call the Intelligent Web. Any service that intelligently mines the data that we have collected so far and acts intelligently (algorithmically) to provide value.
Since the begin of the web there has always been a tussle between the algorithms and the people & the pendulum swings from one side to the other depending on the scenario of the time. We saw it swing back to the people with techmeme’s announcement that they will employ editor(s). Web20 was the power of the people (techmeme was an exception 😉 if you compare it to the darlings of the web20 world – digg, flickr, delicious etc. ).
During the next web – the intelligent web , the pendulum will shift to the algorithms!
Shazam is a application that I use on my iPhone. It listens to a music clipping and identifies the song/track for me. It is particularly useful when one is out shopping with their significant other 😉 It works pretty well and helps me expand my music horizons and recapture old music that I have lost track off. It identifies the track using finger printing technology based on its 8 million song database (which seems to be expanding). This is a prime example of harnessing the power of the data.
Picasa: I used to be early adopter of flickr and I am still a paying user of flickr, but the service has not improved much since it launched (yes they launched video & have geo support! I love the work that they are doing to identify regions using data collected,) but nothing that would make life easier to an end user. Might need another post about how yahoo screwed up an opportunity to integrate and innovate with flickr & delicous. In comparison google launches services and starts to integrate them wonderfully (An antitrust suit might follow in a few years! Mark my words). I am digressing
Picasa recently launched facial recognition and does a fabulous job. The icing on the cake is the speed in which it does it. No wait for hours to identify faces, no dump assumptions and wrong tagging. It takes a little effort to tag the pictures for people’s faces but its provides immediate value! Heres how: When recognizing a face you can tag it to an existing contact or create a new contact. Seamless integration! This makes sure that I dont miss contacts my address book. Simple intelligence that changes my life! So much so that it is compelling me to think about moving from flickr.
What if Google took this to the next level and based on the number of pictures identified per person determined my closet contacts. Case in point, I hang out with my brother a lot and my uncles a lot lesser. It already does something similar with gmail (most contacted people). Now what if you combined the two together? Loads of value! But the scary part is I dont want google to know too much about me! This is where the anti trust angle comes into play. It would make a whole lot of sense if I could connect this to my plaxo address book!
It is time for web20 services to start mining the data that they already have and providing specific value back to the user. You are taken my data now give me back information. Not the bare basic stuff! Give me data that I can use elsewhere! Flickr give my the places I have visited most with lat/long. Delicous give an APML file with my favorite tags! Give me information or you are going to perish.