Children of the Web

Business Week writes:

Flying blind is the unavoidable consequence of coming to terms with today’s most important demographic group: the tens of millions of digital elite who are in the vanguard of a fast-emerging global youth culture. Because of smartphones, blogs, instant messaging, Flickr, MySpace, Skype, YouTube, digg, and de.lic.ious, young people scattered all over are instantly aware of what’s happening to others like them everywhere else. This highly influential group, many of whom are also well-heeled, is sharing ideas and information across borders and driving demand for consumer electronics, entertainment, autos, food, and fashion. Think of it as a virtual melting pot. As the population of the young and Web-savvy grows into the hundreds of millions, the pot is going to boil. “This kind of globalization is happening. It’s still a young phenomenon, but it’s growing fast, and it’s going to take a lot of companies by surprise,” says Soumitra Dutta, a professor at graduate management school INSEAD in France.

We’re now at the busy crossroads where globalization meets Web 2.0. This presents both a challenge to the old ways of doing business and an opportunity to gain tremendous leverage via the right goods and services.

Facebook Apps

WSJ writes: “Facebook now offers more than 800 new services — from photo slideshows to online file storage — up from fewer than 100 a month ago. Meanwhile, those who are creating the Facebook services can access information about their customers and make money by selling related items and ads…Facebook is actually borrowing a tactic pioneered by Microsoft: Rather than building every piece of technology yourself, let others build on your “platform,” much the way Adobe Systems Inc., Intuit Inc. and others built software for Microsoft’s Windows operating system in the 1980s. Using this strategy, Facebook can nurture an ecosystem of developers who can create services far faster than Facebook could build them on its own.”

Identity System

Dave Winer writes: “The features of social networks are due to deconstruct into simple services that can be recombined by skilled users in an infinite number of ways. At the core of all of it is an identity system. So what is an identity system? Is there a good definition somewhere? How many features can you add before it becomes more than an identity system? This is important because in this area, it’s important to strip it down to its bare minimum, so that the first component of any network of people, events and resources can be maximally combined with features that depend on identity. The goal is to give the user the most options with the fewest identities.”