Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Implications of the Destination Free Web

What does the world look like when there are no websites?

The idea of a web without sites continues to be nurtured, poked, prodded and experimented with. Two years ago Steve Rubel wrote that traffic happens elsewhere and again this week he wrote about the end of the destination era.

The mantra of "If we can drive traffic to our site, all will be good in the world." rests on a presumption that people want to go to or find a site.

Some factoids:
  • Of all the possible sites on the web, the average person visits just over 100 a month.
  • Over two-thirds of us don't visit a blog or social network site during the work day.
Given a finite amount of time that we can give to the sourcing and consumption of content coupled with continuing proliferation of pages something doesn't add up. While the odds that people will use the Internet for information continues to rise; the odds that a specific piece of content will be found (like this post for example) does not rise at the same rate, if at all. The math doesn't work.

However, a new model is emerging: the ability for people to share and filter is a game changer. While RSS was a step in the right direction past the bookmark they both presume I want to see all content from a given source - I don't. In business, information needs are highly time and topic sensitive. Today's challenges will be solved and we move on to the next. The beauty of conversations is: I can ask for help. And people being social creatures are very willing to respond.

If it weren't for people sharing things they find useful, I wouldn't know what I know. Tweet Bite

This shift has profound implications for marketing functions like 'search', advertising and analytics.
  • How do we find things if they aren't somewhere?
  • What do we tell people instead of "Come to my place?"
  • How do we track the flow of objects through the ether?
The Internet and the Web were created to connect files; the browser started as a frame around text located someplace else. At the time it made sense - connection and transport was expensive; local storage wasn't. Small, incremental innovations over several decades got us to where we are today. (I alluded to this in a piece on the history of Web 2.0). But, now that the flow of bits is near ubiquitous and 'free' the question has to be asked:

Why do we put stuff somewhere to be found rather than out there to be shared? Tweet Bite

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