The internet is a very disorganized place. I think our children and grandchildren will laugh at us for (among many other things) even trying to bushwhack our way through this chirping, hissing, dripping jungle of data, media, networks-within-networks, and kittens doing adorable things. The next truly killer app will be the one that is able to organize content, suss out what matters and what matters to you, and deliver it to you on a silver platter (or on a lunch tray, or in the Stanley Cup, or however you want it served).
The big question that follows is how, exactly, will content– written, visual, audio, etc.– be sorted and organized? Who will be the decider? Will the New York Times editorial board bestow the label of true and important? Will Google’s algorithms sort items based on myriad criteria to allow the relevant to rise to the top? Will billions of netizens vote and decide? Who knows.
Here’s what I do think is true: In dealing with the oceans of media and content, perhaps the most valuable validators will be our friends. They’ll share links, photos, videos, blog posts, quotes, quips, and other stuff they like with you, their friend, and you will share back with them. We already do this of course, through e-mail and IM, status message and Tweet, RSS, Blog, Buzz, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. But it’s fragmented, it’s disorganized, and it’s not very well integrated.
A recent article by Marisa Meltzer at the American Prospect wrote about blogging/sharing platform Tumblr, which gives users a slick, easy way to share content– original or not. She aptly describes it as a tool for “curating” the web– for picking out and sharing what matters to you, and ignoring the rest. I’ve experimented with a number of blogging platforms over the years, and Tumblr is the one that feels most relevant to the moment we’re in now: distilling simplicity from the pandemonium.
So is Tumblr the future of content sharing on the web? Well, no, not exactly. I think we’re gravitating toward something that melds Tumblr’s simplicity, ease of use and customizability with much of Google Reader’s functionality, and then ties it together with Facebook’s network. Google and Facebook are both working hard to develop the killer content-sharing platform, but Facebook still feels clunky, and Google Buzz is the worst of all worlds.
But it was just 25 years ago that the first .com was registered. Fifteen years ago, Netscape changed the internet. And five years ago, nobody had heard of a Twitter. So I won’t go any further in my speculation about how we’ll be sharing– or even what we’ll be sharing– five years from now.