Net gains for the future

Thanks to the wonders of the web I received emails from Turkey, Botswana and America over the weekend.

One from an old friend who I met randomly more than a decade ago, another from a former university colleague that I’d lost touch with, and the third from a reader I’ve never met before who just happened to stumble across these ramblings.

Between the Blog and facebook, it was great to re-establish links and build new ones, highlighting many of the benefits to be had from social networking sites, as discussed today by Jeff Jarvis in The Guardian.

Yet there is a bigger picture here, one that goes beyond simply keeping in touch with friends, but moulding these sites to suit your every need.

Already we can have web feeds delivering content relevant to our lives, that can be taken a stage further using composition tools such as Pipes to “aggregate, manipulate and mashup” content from around the web.

However I was struck by comments today from Chris De Wolfe, the CEO and co-founder of MySpace, who has an altogether further reaching vision of how we will learn to manipulate the web for our own purposes.

He said:

“Social activity is happening everywhere and we expect applications and features to be more fluid, based on the online population that want content where they want it, when they want it, and how they want it. Social activity should be portable and we expect the industry will continue to move in that direction”.

Which probably goes part of the way to explaining Google’s desire to win wireless in the US.

Wolfe’s suggestion seems to be that rather than just being able to stay in touch and track each other’s lives through the likes of Twitter, we’ll be able to go to this single source for all our TV radio and reading needs too.

Which is something that must surely be making newspaper groups sit up and take notice.

There has been much debate over the success, or otherwise, of newspapers on the web in light of the massive growth figures examined here recently.

But if instead of just RSS, what if digital newspapers could be delivered straight to the end users social networking site of choice through some kind of widget or preference in a way that would satisfy the ABCes.

So instead of going to the newspaper sites, the sites came to us, the reader – ready delivered wherever we decide to put it and whatever video and podcasts go with the package.

A step beyond what is currently on offer via e-editions.

The spin off for publishers, apart from advertising revenues, could be a ready made audience keen to help furnish them with the user generated content and comments they so desire.

Some news groups are clearly further ahead than others, and it will be interesting to see how video-on-demand services such as the forthcoming BBC Worldwide, C4 and ITV collaboration Kangaroo adapt to the new customer base.

But I’ll wager in this world of Web 2.0 the real winners will be those happy to read their news online, and not just those who hope to deliver it.

Categories: Media philosophy & trends

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