Thursday, April 13, 2006


So I went to the SF Web Innovators meeting tonight. I couldn't stay that long, but met some interesting people.

One interesting conversation was with a person after asking what I did stated, "Well, I have a regular meeting with about 20 technologists and other people in the industry and all of us besides one agree that blogs will die in 5 years... so you better think about changing your business model in five years..."

Of course I heard this before, and I didn't bother asking what their reasons were. I just made some assumptions... the person is 50+ years old and so are most of the people in that regular meeting. Most of them read their Sunday weekly over coffee, don't IM, and believe most of this web 2.0 stuff is a fad. I also assumed that they really weren't knee deep in all of this "stuff" during the first wave and probably went around saying websites were a fad and companies shouldn't bother with them back in 1998.

Tamagotchi was a fad, and the Atari 2600 was a revolution that helped to create the video game console industry which spawned the PlayStation and XBox and fueled the growth of Electronic Arts.

Blogger, Six Apart, and LiveJournal were all part of the wave that made blogging more popular. These were descendants from early self-publishing tools such as Geocities, Koz, which I tested for the Tribune Co. back in 1998, and Xanga, which was started in 1996 and still going strong. So "blogging" has been around for over 10 years, it's changed the way many people read the news and get information, and it will be integrated into many of the websites of today.

How can someone still call this a fad? It amazes me how some people cannot recognize a simple pattern of change that is occurring across the globe. It's not just about blogging, but about how people are changing the way that they communicate and live their lives daily. It's about building relationships in virtual worlds and forums, keeping in touch with friends, and how much we've changed the way we do business now because of technology.

I gave a talk recently using some information Tony, my co-founder at GoingOn, used for his "IM Generation" article in his upcoming AlwaysOn blogozine. I spoke about how those born after 1980 are part of a whole new world. 30% of them have created new friends online. 30%! How many 30-somethings can say this? Probably a single digit percentage. How many 40-somethings? I'm guessing zero. And those in that person's technology meetings? I'm certain it's zero. While speaking, I reflected on how during my last year in college, back in 1993, I was one of the rare few that was actively using email. Before this the only method of communication with friends were my dorm phone and pen and paper. No emails, no IM, and no cellphones. Imagine what kids from today would do living back in 1990? They would go bonkers.

Anyway, the world in changing in front of us and it's an incredibly exciting time. While I don't often get emotional about this, just thinking about everything that is going on makes your mind go in million different directions. Sometimes what we see today are dreams from the 90s, but the technology and infrastructure simply wasn't there. Now the elements are in place for us to experience many of these old dreams and new ones. Too bad some people will have their eyes closed during this ride of changes within our social fabric and culture.

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