The Implicit Web
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that Web 2.0 no longer has any unique
meaning. It now means “any
Internet-based company that has launched after 2004”. It is as useless a descriptor as “dot com”
Jason Calacanis today posted his attempt to define Web 3.0. Like Fred, I sure hope we can find a better name for it than 3.0. I also think that Jason’s proposed definition is incomplete. I believe that a big part of “what comes next” will center around the Implicit Web. Since the Wikipedia entry on Implicit Web is pretty obtuse/complex, here’s what I mean by implicit web:
As people spend more time online and perform more of their activities online, they create a lot of data about themselves online. Netflix knows what movies I watch and like. Apple knows what music I purchase and listen to. Amazon knows what books I purchase and like. Evite knows what events/parties I’m going to. Tivo knows what TV shows I like. Opentable knows where I like to eat. Fandango knows what movies I go to. Ticketmaster knows what shows I’ve seen.
However, until now that data has existed in silos. There has been no easy way for me (as a user) to access and benefit from that data. I think the Implicit Web will give users the ability to control the data in these silos and decide who and how it gets shared with.
Let’s take a simple example. If a user joins Facebook today and wants to complete their personal profile, they get presented with several blank boxes (see right) to fill out. However, via the Implicit Web, as user should be able to tell Facebook to:
- check Apple (or Rhapsody or iLike) for their Favorite Music
- check Tivo (or Comcast) for their favorite TV shows
- check Netflix (or Flixster) for their favorite Movies, and to
- check Half.com (or Amazon) for their favorite Books.
Why should users be forced to re-create data that already exists? Talk about a waste of time.
I think there is a huge opportunity here. In fact, it reminds me of an opportunity I saw in 2000. In 2000, Sony launched their Playstation 2 – and they were quickly sold out. Over 50,000 Playstation 2’s were listed on eBay in the first week. That means that 50,000 sellers had to go to eBay and spend 15+ minutes creating the exact same listing. Every seller had to type-in the same description and upload the same picture. That’s over 12,500 hours wasted re-creating something that already existed elsewhere. And that helped shape the vision of Half.com.
First Round Capital is actively looking to invest in companies that help make the Implicit Web a reality – either by breaking down the silos or by taking advantage of the data in a new way.
One final story. I
remember hearing a story about a research study on dating (I haven’t been able
to find the exact study – if anyone knows it, please tell me). Researchers basically arranged two types of
blind dates. The first group of blind dates
was a traditional dinner – where two people spent two hours talking and getting
to know each other. The second group of
blind dates was a little different. For
this group, they took one person and let them spend five minutes alone in the
other person's home or apartment. They
could see their fridge, their clothes, their books, their music, how messy/neat
the house was, etc.
And they found that the person who spent five minutes collecting implicit data got a far better (and more accurate) picture of their date then the person who spent two hours collecting explicit data by conversing.
I wonder if the same results will hold online…