Monday, January 07, 2013

The dash from convergence and how the web can save us if we choose

I wonder if the proliferation of devices we are experiencing give us a hint about what will happen to the web?
A few years back – when the first smart phones were making inroads, when the first all-you-can-eat mobile data deals were laid before a hungry audience, then it seemed to make perfect sense that convergence would arrive via the device.

Hell, I have a phone that can take picture, tell the time, calculate, run my diary... open documents, access my email, access the internet, play games and music, play video, show broadcast tv etc etc. Why wouldn’t we think one device could do it all?

And here I am packing a few items for some days away on business and finding it essential that I load up with a laptop, ipad, kindle fire AND iphone (4S)...
Little sign of convergence here. And I’ve never given up on wearing a watch either.

But platforms? Despite the vast variety of opportunity, there are only ever a handful of giants. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, for example

All start off with relatively focused aims. But over time they bloat – copying the ideas of others, assuming that the battle is on for the one social home we will become and remain loyal to.

But the more they bloat, the more we see the value in the specific, the more we spill out into those with greater focus on specific needs – the Pinterests, Instagrams, 4Squares of this world – and the thousands more behind them in the long tail.

I wonder if, given just a little more bloating from the big boys, we may rediscover the self-forming-group value of the web – that we need less direction and guidelines from those who would be our internet, and more purpose from ourselves to make our connectedness count.

The dash from convergence in devices may be yet another indicator that we are more comfortable with complexity than the reductionists would have us believe, that we value niche over lowest common denominator in a very powerful way.

And that’s a good thing – because it’s a much better match with the infinite variety of adhoc self-forming groups the web is built to enable.

The web is our salvation from the bland, from the mass, from the uniform. If we want it to be.

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