Something in Open 2009 symposium’s first day’s program triggered an association in my brain about a thing I’ve been thinking about lately (nothing to do with Open 2009). I really don’t remember what the trigger was, but this is what I got out of it: a what if kind of a thought.
The status update is the web equivalent of the SMS. A seemingly simple thing that many at first don’t really get. What’s the point, they ask. What’s the point with sending text messages on the mobile phone, some asked back when SMS was young, and who can say anything important in 160 characters? Well, SMS turned out to be a huge hit and now it’s as mundane as horse manure on city streets was one hundred years ago.
People, who only a few ears ago didn’t give a toss about the web or the whole social media stuff, are now being sucked into Facebook and especially the status updating stuff (now that the mini-feed [remember that?] has evolved into a microblogging tool). Soon even the least geekiest of us all will feel the need of status updates anywhere and that’ll replace text messaging. Hey, it’s cheaper, faster and reaches more people than SMS and as an added bonus status updates give a possibility to lurk on other people’s activities.
I think status updates will be the thing that boosts the evolution of two major aspects of the web, which will be realized in a big scale, before any other change: The truly mobile web with location based services and the fully device independent web.
The phone went from stationary to mobile (though that was quite hard a thing for many to believe way back when), the internet will too, but as we have it now it’s either too expensive or too difficult for the Joe Average to do it en masse.
There are a myriad of devices out there and thus people will use a myriad of devices for updating their statuses. Services that restrict the number of devices to only a few, will not survive. The one’s that will be a part of the status update revolution (or rather try to grab as much of the money that lies in there and thus play a part of the evolution) are going step all over the one’s who stick to the old ways.
Some might argue that we are in the mobile-and-device-independent-status-update times already, but I don’t think we are. Yes, there are some who are living it already, but the common people aren’t. When the masses adapt the way of thinking about status updates as an ubiquitous part of their everyday existence, then we’ll be there. The need of technology (a tool) comes after Joe A. has a motivation of getting something done (the need). The tools themselves don’t motivate to do anything (unless you are a tech geek :)
As the short term business outlook with quick profits (which seems to be what dictates the economical powers to be) hangs more on the number of consumers online at any given time doing their status updating than some more difficult to monetize technical geek stuff, the semantic web does not seem to have a fair chance at the moment.
This does not mean, that the useful data, with longer lifespan will die out (or stop increasing), but it’s just that status updates and their short life span matches the hectic speed of the markets. I think the semantic web will come, and I think it’ll presumably be just super, but before that we’ll see The Status Update Web.