Why Google Should Fear the Social Web

1Executive Summary

Last week, San Francisco played host to the Web 2.0 summit, the annual gathering of Silicon Valley’s grand pooh-bahs, who share their wisdom and worldview with others. This year’s event was marked by two news announcements:

  1. Twitter will share its data feed with Microsoft’s Bing and Google (in exchange for money), in order to provide searchers with more real-time results.
  2. Facebook will soon share its 300 million users’ status updates with Bing.

As standalone news items, these were little more than noise of the sort that always permeates Silicon Valley. But when taken collectively, these news stories actually reveal a major shift in the web and its core ideas — a transition from data web to the context web.

To explain what I mean, let’s back up. A few years before I started thinking about the GigaOM Bunker Series event, “What Comes Next for the Net,” I was already noticing the emergence of two major trends:

  1. The growing pervasiveness of fixed and wireless broadband would make us change how we create and consume information.
  2. Exponential growth in the amount of information online would, without some kind of intervention, make it difficult to find and consume that information.

Today, it is becoming obvious that these trends are in full swing. In our modern, highly networked lives it is getting increasingly difficult to find relevant information on the web, quickly. The 10 blue links paradigm, popularized by Google, appears to be reaching its limits. While this seek-search-and-consume methodology has become part of our basic Internet behavior and turned Google into a gazillion dollar company, it may be time for us to look for alternatives.

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