Remember the Information Superhighway

digital-information-highway-horizonBack in the 90’s the big buzzword was Information Superhighway popularized by then Vice-President Al Gore. While the vision at the time was grand, in reality it really wasn’t super. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good start, for example being able to send a message across the country in minutes rather than days. Then people got very exited about the internet causing them to invest, acquire and basically bet on every aspect of the internet. A lot of millionaires were reared at this time. Then the bubble burst, many of these companies died (for lack of a better word). I tend to think that the internet hasn’t realized its super power just yet. During the time of the recovery from the implosion of the internet market, it was rebranded 2.0. In computer terms that would be version 2 of some popular software, even though there were many iterations of the internet, but we’ll stick with this for now. At version 2.0 more and more web applications became database driven. One of the bigger additions was the CMS (Content Management System) with a CMS, you didn’t have to modify your web page as you did in previous iterations and with the emergence of WordPress and Blogger (and many more), one would just have to choose a pre-created theme and start adding content. Pretty cool, faster and easier than getting webspace, hiring or becoming a web developer, taking months to get a functioning website. Months have become minutes. One more big advantage of the CMS’s, is that the information part of the information superhighway, it more information packed. The ease at which experts can share their knowledge.

While it is getting faster, it’s not instantaneous, people put a premium on 2 things. Bigger and Faster, while the internet is getting much bigger, it’s not getting faster. Enter what I believe to be Web 2.5, not what a think to be a new version, but a serious improvement to the previous iteration. It almost started with MySpace, but they made it almost painful to have an account on there. Then it became the place to be if you were a musician. It didn’t take long for people to run away from MySpace, not because the concept was bad, but poorly implemented. People that were creating MySpace sites, weren’t web developers and had no idea about continuity on the site. This is what opened the door for FaceBook. In FaceBook, people got the sense of community they had at MySpace, but with constraints. I think that is primarily one of the reasons FaceBook continues to thrive while MySpace is floundering. (As a side note, there is a report that a consortium led by Justin Timberlake has purchased MySpace and are trying to restore it to its previous glory.)

The other application that thrived under the web 2.5 paradigm was Twitter. Previously there were applications like Pounce and Jaiku. But it was almost a battle royal with Twitter coming out as the undisputed champ. I’ll be honest, at first it took me some time to see the advantages of Twitter. So I’ll take a second to give some Twitter advise. Think of Twitter as the internets nervous system, if anything happens anywhere, it is usually reported on twitter in seconds. But the trick that I found with Twitter is, bigger is not always better. I found a web app that would automatically follow back anyone that followed me. Then I thought that was really cool, I had almost 2,500 followers. Which sounds impressive, it is really hard to navigate through all of the internet “noise” I then had to sit down and go through all of my followers to determine if I thought they really had something to say that I would be interested in, or we going to get me to buy something. After my cleanup efforts, I have disabled the auto-follower and am down to 165 people that I follow. This way Twitter isn’t overwhelming with a bunch of information that I really don’t care about. That being said, Twitter does add to the speed action of the internet. Since that inception of Twitter, it has been everywhere deputizing citizen reporters that have reported on everything from the Boston bombing to the overthrow of the Egyptian government.

Let that sink in, world wide instantaneous live news. Add to that everyone can be a reporter, or commentator about the days events, using a simple microphone, you can start an audio podcast for no money whatsoever. The same goes for video. Almost everyone has a video camera with them at all times now, (their phone), and adding video to YouTube, Blip, Vine, or . Posting content has never been cheaper or easier.

Compared to where we are now, the Information Superhighway was more like the information dirt road.

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