The Pattern of Social Technology Evolution

Here is my strategic outlook on the evolution of online technologies: past, present and future. Please see the table below. Commentary follows the table…

 

Content

Communication

Collaboration

Community

Commerce

1980’s

 

The Net

 

Desktop Publishing

 

Phone, Fax, Email

Database Applications

BBS’s & On-line
Services

Phone, Fax, Early EDI

1990’s

 

The Web

 

Web Publishing & Web Sites

 

PIM’s, E-mail & IM,
Phone, Fax

Groupware, KM, and Intranets

Web Portals

Web Stores & Marketplaces

2000’s

 

The Metaweb

 

Weblogs & RSS

 

(“Microcontent” and “Personal
Publishing”)

E-Mail, Webmail, IM, VOIP, Video
Conferencing & Web Conferencing

Wikis, Decentralized
Collaboration & Semantic Webs

Social Networks & “Friendsware

XML Web Services & Web Services Exchanges

2010’s

 

 

The Semantic Web

K-logs, Lifelogs & Personal
Portals

 

 

Microcontent becomes primary enterprise KM medium. All information
about a person is stored in their Lifelog. Everyone
gets their own personal portal. Semantic routing of content becomes part of
network stack.

Unified Communications

 

 

Persistent identity and
relationship management across all devices, software, and networks enables
seamlessly integrated synchronous and asynchronous communications.

Group Minds & Collective Intelligence

 

 

Anyone can know what everyone
knows; everyone can know what anyone knows.

New levels of collective
intelligence are enabled by fusion of Semantic Web with distributed agents
and knowledge management tools.

Emergent Communities

 

 

Communities spontaneously
emerge and self-organize around memes (hot topics). Communities are
decentralized; no longer “hosted” in any single location or controlled by any
single service provider

Intelligent Marketplaces

 

 

Intelligent commerce agents
interact semi-autonomously in a decentralized global marketplace.Self-optimizing
trading networks

What we see is that “Social Networks” are the current-day entrant in the “Community” category. As the 1990’s taught us, the Community category did not prove to be a big money-maker — except for organizations that focused on becoming portals and eventually marketplaces, such as Yahoo!. Organizations that focused primarily on providing online communities became “features” rather than “stand-alone businesses” over time, and were either acquired or went out of business.

Communities can generate revenues from advertising and in some cases, paid subscriptions, however incremental revenue growth was primarily attained through commerce and classified advertising. If Social Networking services are to “make it” as businesses they will have to trend in this direction — those that do not will go the way of the 1990’s-era community sites.

Similarly, companies that sell “Social Networking Software Platforms” are simply the current-day equivalent of companies that sold “Community Platforms” in the 1990’s. Those companies morphed into Web conferencing and collaboration companies, or were acquired, or went out of business. The key lesson here is that mere “Community Platform” companies did not become big businesses in their own right — those that survived had to either verticalize or focus on enterprise collaboration. The same will be true of companies that provide platforms for social networking in the enterprise.

More commentary to come soon…

10 thoughts on “The Pattern of Social Technology Evolution”

  1. It would be interesting to see what the next row of characteristic will end up being. My guess is something like:
    Content: All the above, plus real-time video/audio/photo blogging content via ubiquitous internet access.
    Communication: All of the above, plus real-time video/audio/photo content.
    Colloboration: ??
    Community: location-based services enable ad-hoc, transient communities of shared interest/barter to emerge in real-time based on locational proximity.
    Colloboration:

  2. 2010

    Minding the Planet Nova wonders where we might be by 2010. Considerably more imaginative than Nokia! Lifelogs & Personal Portals All information about a person and their experiences is automatically logged for their personal use. Semantic routing of co…

  3. 2010

    Minding the Planet Nova wonders where we might be by 2010. Considerably more imaginative than Nokia! Lifelogs & Personal Portals All information about a person and their experiences is automatically logged for their personal use. Semantic routing of co…

  4. Your forward-thinking perspective on “community” technologies is rich and compelling. I look forward to what your mind focuses on next…

  5. Comments on Nova’s Pattern of Online Technology Fads

    Yes, absolutely: as I stated in my recent post to Scoble, neither blogging personal publishing nor social networking are an end goal in and of themselves — they are merely new features. I feel even more strongly that all four areas that Nova mentions …

  6. Nova Spivack: the future of the web

    A few days ago, Nova posted a very interesting analysis of where we’ve come from and where we’re going in the world of social technology. Now, he has set out his vision of the Metaweb: ‘The Metaweb is emerging from

  7. Converging towards the mind

    Knowledge management consists of two key components: codification, and personalization. Codification is the act of amassing and archiving data and information. In this day and age, that means digitalization, databases and search engines. Personalizatio…

  8. Converging towards the mind

    Knowledge management consists of two key components: codification, and personalization. Codification is the act of amassing and archiving data and information. In this day and age, that means digitalization, databases and search engines. Personalizatio…

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