If you write a blog, I’m discovering that you pretty much have to do a January post with either a review of the previous year or a punt at what the future holds. I’ll leave the review bit to others, but here’s my personal mind-dump for the big things of 2008…
I reckon Facebook as it is now is going to fall way off the public radar during 2008. The disclaimer “as it is now” is my get-out clause – if Facebook find a way of changing the rules around applications, finally expose their Social Graph data to the world or make some serious amends to browse and search then they may have a hope. But right now, here’s a typical Facebook experience:
“Hey, I’ve been invited to this Facebook thing. Now let me see. Wow, Bob is there. And Jon. And Jane. I’ll invite them all to be my friends. Cool. Look, Bob got married. He looks old! I can’t believe he has kids. Look – Jane went to the shops. Now…um..Right, might post some pictures. Nice. Someone added a comment. Cool. Now I’m going to look for my mate Jon…Damn, there are 4 million Jon’s. Never mind…Er…Who the hell is this inviting me to be a friend? I never heard of her…Wait, WTF is a FunWall? Why have I got 35 invites? I don’t need this noise. Life is too busy. For now I might just add Facebook emails to my spam filter…Oh crap, all my friends have joined AnotherDamnSocialNetwork.com. What, you mean I have to re-input all my data? Sod that, I’m off”
Facebook has also reminded us of something else: we lose touch with some people for a very good reason.
Some say Twitter is the new Facebook. And although I don’t actually do it much (yeah, ‘course I got an account…) I’d say that the single best thing about Facebook is the updates feature, which is basically…Twitter.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the geek adoption of Twitter goes mainstream in ’08.
Signal / Noise
Dunbar wrote about the 150 being the maximum number of individuals that any one person can keep in touch with at any one time. I don’t know of any measures for information input but as RSS continues to spread, so I reckon we’ll hear more about what we should do about the sheer quantity of incoming material. Certainly I’m seeing a lot of buzz (not all just about it being January and everyone having a good spring clean..) and the beginnings of some products (AideRSS, SocialStream, etc etc) which help us cut down on the inputs. We all took to RSS because it lets us do more with less: I’ve just cut down my feed list massively and I’m still trawling through 400+ articles a day. Something is gonna break :-). While you’re at it, check out this great post which Mr Pope sent over to me. Similar kind of sentiment about keeping up with tech – or not, more to the point…
The iPhone will obviously be seen as the beginning of the mobile web, although of course the reality is that many of us have been “browing” online since that wap thing back in the 90’s. User adoption as always drives public perception which drives investment which drives adoption…
The iPhone does two major things in one blast:
1. The “usually crap” experience you have during mobile web surfage is buried under full-page zoomable browsing, easy(ish) typing and widgets, all of which manage to surface the web but without the chuff you usually get around mobile browsing. In short, the iPhone is primarily a sexy and really usable interface. For many people – especially the queues of teens you see hanging around O2 shops where they have the iPhone/iPodTouch available to fiddle with – this is enough.
2. Apple have done a very cunning deal in the UK with The Cloud whereby all iPhone users get access to any hotspot as part of their contract. In one swoop, you’ve got on-the go internet access at a huge range of hotspots with no hassle..
Two continuing and evolving approaches: RSS and OpenID
We tech types might all be 100% familiar with the format and ease of use of RSS. Continuing support from browsers (IE friendly feed view, etc) means that it’s going to keep hitting the mainstream over the coming months. I’m also willing to bet, however, that new tech will appear around OPML and feed analysis. I’m also pretty sure that we will see more of RSS as a portable data format (for instance, getting search results like these from Technorati) – not “just some news headlines” but a further extension of RSS, and a great example of how to extend a simple format to do interesting things.
OpenID is another approach which has been around a looong time but is finally seeing some serious heavy hitters in the form of Google, IBM and Flickr joining the party. I’m also noticing many more sites supporting OpenID – maybe some museums during 2008…?
And finally to the biggest keyword of them all for 2008: APML..
The notion of “Attention Data” is already chugging around tech circles pretty hard, and has been for a couple of years. The underlying question about the openness of the Social Graph is integral to this, and has to a certain extent driven AD back into the limelight. Fundamentally, we’re all giving any site we visit something incredibly valuable: our attention. Anything you do online carries with it an implication about what you like and who you are - this is understandably very powerful information, both for developers and advertisers. Attention Profile Markup Language (APML) is an XML based standard for attempting to capture this activity, and I reckon it’s going to be big in the next months and years – not just capturing it but also doing useful and interesting stuff with it as well…
And that, as they say, is it for now…Let’s see where it all goes…