TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: Content Discovery
A number of other developments are helping bring the Near Web to life. Internet Yellow Pages are making yellow pages much more accessible. Google Earth brought us satellite pictures of the world around us. People then started tagging places. Flickr added geotagging support so that now photos could be linked with locations. In some parts of the world, webcams and sensors are already providing real-time information of the world around us.
The Near Web is important because that is where we live and do a lot of our socialising and spending. Yet, there is so little that we know of that world. To find out about the specials in restaurants or bookshops, one has to walk to the place to find out what is happening. We hear on radio and watch on TV about events in far-flung corners of the world in real-time. Yet, we have very limited knowledge of what is happening a few hundred metres around us. What we have is a discovery problem.
Businesses have to start thinking of a new world a world in which all of their customers have access to a mobile phone. How does one rethink local marketing? Can one use the mobile phone to create relationships with customers? Customers, too, are keen to know what’s happening around them. TV, radio and their newspapers do not necessarily cover the world near them. How can this chasm be bridged?
This is where we need to think of the new digital infrastructure that is being put in place and the far-reaching implications it will have on life and commerce. Here is a quote by Ashby M. Foote II which captures the essence: One of the most insightful commentators on the changes at work in the economy is Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine and author of a brilliant new book, The Long Tail. He cites three forces that are transforming the economy and creating vast new opportunities at the grassroots level for small and boutique businesses. Force 1: The democratization of the tools of production. (The obvious example is the PC as a tool for publishing and multimedia.) Force 2: The democratization of the tools of distribution. (For instance, the combination of the PC and the Internet makes everyone a distributor). Force 3: Connecting supply and demand. (Search filters and feedback loops like those found on Google, iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix help niche content find interested buyers and users.)
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