Chao Lam

Working on the next small things …

Welcome to Next Small Things!

with 4 comments

In this blog, I’ll like to talk about the disappearing World Wide Web, and in particular this blog is about a few of the next small things we can do to accelerate its disappearance.

Let me explain.

Much has been written about how the Internet and the Web is evolving. Over the past 12 months, the hot new meme in the blogosphere has been Web 2.0. In particular, O’Reilly popularized the term with a conference of the same moniker and some fuzzy consensus has built around its themes, such as:

  • Web APIs (Jeff Bezos famously said “Web 2.0 is making the Internet better for computers.” )
  • User generated content (from eBay to Craigslist, just to name the über successful)
  • The Long Tail
  • Design for participation
  • Remixing of data

Count me in as a recent convert. However, while I agree about much that has been written about the “what” of Web 2.0, I find it quite surprising that not much has been said about the “why” of Web 2.0.

So, why Web 2.0 now? I believe it’s because the Internet and the web are blending and weaving into our daily lives in increasingly transparent and profound ways.

Just as electric motors were the coolest things two centuries ago, they’ve completed disappeared from our consciousness today as they are embedded in our everyday lives from the vibrator in your cell phone, to your dishwasher, to autos (formerly known as motor cars).

Remember the dotcom ads in the Bubbly Nineties? They were constantly exhorting us to “log on” to the internet. We no longer hear that – we’re “always on” the internet now. So, the web is already disappearing.

As more of us use the Internet, and broadband becomes pervasive, the web is becoming mainstream. When technology reaches main street, ironically, the market fragments into many micro niches, each one served by products and services customized and personalized for that small group of people.

While others are on the hunt for the Next Big Thing, I believe it’s more fruitful to figure out the next small things we can do to customize and personalized the web to better suit our lives.

What are the small steps we can take, to further accelerate the disappearance of the Web? Figuring this out is the mission of this blog. Accompanying this blog, I’ll be starting a few experiments to test out ideas discussed in this blog. I’m interested in web services and UI that can empower us to do more on the web, in a transparent and intuitive manner. I hope to recount my mini-adventures here, and seek wisdom and help from you, dear friends!

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Written by Pseudonymous

September 1, 2005 at 11:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Your slant towards ‘small things’ is very thought-provoking. On one level, I’m seeing more services being launched and targetted at getting users to do some ‘small thing’ on their site, the latest being Do you recall this craze we had about ‘eyeballs’? Could small things be the yardstick of success for Web2.0 as eyeballs had been for 1.0?


    September 4, 2005 at 7:54 am

  2. Shooperman, using “small things” to measure success is an interesting direction I’ve not thought about. How would you quantify this metric? By the number of projects we develop? or can we somehow measure the impact of such projects?


    September 4, 2005 at 11:25 am

  3. I believe there should be 2 levels of measurements on how successful a company is in the new Web2.0 economy:

    1. The number of ‘small things’ a company has built online services for. Here, ClipClip would be just one small thing. Robo-Co-Op would have 3 small things: 43things, 43places and allconsuming (personal library of books, cds and movies).

    2. Within each ‘small thing’, number of users, frequency of use and stickiness would be important too. These attributes would map to your market size (potential), value to end-user and loyalty. Actually, I’m pulling these out of a hat for the sake of discussion but deep down, I got a feeling that some ‘small things’ will be more successful than others. For example, I believe flickr is and will be more successful than 43things because keeping a photo album has more potential users, requires more frequent updates (everything your digital camera storage runs out) and more stickiness (I can re-type my list of things, but re-upload 1+ GB of photos?).

    If you agree with what I propose in (2), ClipClip would then have a good chance to be a successful ‘small thing’, well, for a start, we should benchmark it against 43thing’s growth.

    However, I also feel we should think about who our ‘alpha’ group of users would be. Don’t think I have to explain why early adopters would be important. But at the moment, we seem to be designing this for anyone who wants to make a clip. Can I propose that we nail down on an early adopter group to design the release candidate for and work from there. Two proposals:

    a. Bloggers
    b. Bookmarkers (ala delicious users)

    My vote is going for bloggers because the implicit viral value of this group is going to help Clipclip grow 🙂


    September 4, 2005 at 7:34 pm

  4. Shooperman, great points! We should discuss this more. But my initial idea is that, for phase one, we are more passive, and _observe_ how our ‘alpha’ (in both senses – alpha geek & alpha tester) users actually use the product and how they would like to use the product. From their actual usage, we can then be a little more smart about narrowing to a core group, or to a core user domain – which I agree is essential.


    September 13, 2005 at 11:19 am

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