Now we know what the future looks like

Back to the future

The whole phrase is ‘Now we know what the future looks like, what would we like to do with it?’

For the second post in a row I’m afraid I’m in a rather idealistic mood. But it seems to me, now, that we look at the structure of business and marketing as it’s being done by the market leaders, we look at posts by visionaries like this one, this one and this one, and we think we pretty much know how this is going to shake out…

The question of micro distribution of corporate reputation has been answered. The question of finding value inside organistations through enablement of individuals has been proven. The question of whether we think better separately or together has been answered.

So, my point is this. In the Future (doesn’t really need a capital does it, since it’s only a couple of minutes away), if we assume that we will broadly have a marketplace of ideas where we all now can have our say. If we will have a world where communities of interest can be powerful, and massively devolved. If we will have a world where companies can thive by coming up with powerful ideas and finding ways to communicate them quickly and powerfully. Then what do we want out of that world?

It probably sounds a bit irrelevant but it’s an important question. Because we’re not, any of us, I think really after better mp3 players, nor mobile phones, nor fruit smoothies.

But we also don’t really have the passions of the past. If we live in big cities, at least, we’ve started to see the back of racism, sexism, for the most part, intollerance; what are we worrying about now? Knife crime? I know it’s a serious question but it’s very recent and very media orientated. House prices? Economy? That’s just not intereting, really.

I think it’s about this (you’ll read a transcript of a Clinton interview about finding similarities rather than differences). For all the things that have been resolved, we live in a world where far too many inequalities exist for the wrong reason (there are good reasons for alot of inequalities of course).

But I’m in intrigued about views here.

If we’re all going to be a position where we have all this extra information, all this extra access to cheap, easy, global media, all of this ability to form communities, how do we use this to moderate our behaviour for the better?

And more to the point, what is we actually want to achieve? Or are we all going to turn into Miss World, and look for world peace and happy families.

Setting the standard

opensocial

Is it just me, or is there something a little bit desperate in Google’s response to Facebook, Open Social? Amongst all this cooked-up debate about whether Facebook will join the Open Social platform, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the attraction of the platform.

If no one invented another application for Facebook (another annoying Spam-ridden app like Vampires or Fun Wall), would it whither and die? Hardly. Whereas, there would have to be something pretty special written for Orkut, Friendster or MySpace and the rest to get me to go back to them.

Where are all these developers who want to develop for Facebook but don’t have the time because they’re too busy developing for MySpace and Linked in?

Bear in mind that Facebook’s Event application was put together by Zuckerberg himself in one night. Photos reportedly took one week and now outguns all other online photo applications put together.

It is not a shortage of development time but a lack of good ideas which is holding applications back. And more to that point, the apps that make Facebook great, are the ones which really do extend the social graph. It’s not a coincidence that 87% of app installs come from just 2% of the apps. The other 98% are just noise.

What I want to know is why the people at Google can’t just make Orkut not shit? Or take the position they already have with documents, email, search history and everything they know about everybody and find a genuinely new way to bring people together. Competing with Facebook on its terms seems an unlikely way to win.

Update:

Just found this excellent post from Lauren Cooney which asks whether Google might have ‘complex’ motives of its own. Just how linked is OpenSocial linked to Google IDs? Just how much of that social graph juice will find its way back onto Google’s servers. Perhaps not so much doing evil, but certainly keeping an eye on the future revenue streams.