TECH TALK: Next Billion: Innovations Needed (Part 4)

6. Social Network Software

While there is a lot of content out on the Internet, what is also needed is contact. This is where social network software comes in. People want to connect with other people. Websites like Ryze, LinkedIn and Friendster offer the promise of making connections between people. Email and IM offer one type of connectivity with people whom we know directly. What social networks do is extend this to friends of friends.

One specific type of this emerging breed of software is personal publishing tools for blogging. Blogs are personal journals. They are voices and conversations. The first generation of the Internet had home pages that people made in homesteads like Geocities. But after the initial euphoria, the home pages languished because they were hard to update. Blogs go beyond that they make writing and linking so much easier. The chronological organisation makes new content easily visible, and RSS makes syndication trivial.

Blogs are giving a richness and personal touch to the web that hasnt been seen before. They are what will give individuals and small businesses a mechanism to find a place on the Internet. It could be an individual writing about needlecraft or someone creating a weblog around Scrabble. Whatever it is, blogs have added a variety on the web that has been missing so far.

7. The Information Marketplace

Just as individuals need to contact each other, so do SMEs. One of the most important challenges an SME faces is new business generation. This is where the Information Marketplace comes in. It connects SMEs with other SMEs. It gets around the marketing trap that SMEs face: because they are small, it is difficult for them to spend money promoting themselves, and so it is harder for others to find them, and so they tend to stay small. Built around weblogs, wikis and RSS, the Information Marketplace is a manifestation of the Publish-Subscribe Web.

Imagine the small, neighbourhood businesses that are there in every part of the world. It would be nice if each of them could publish a profile of themselves and what is new with their business. This could then be made available as an RSS feed. Users (consumers or other businesses) could then subscribe to these feeds in their news readers, and thus be alerted whenever there is something new and interesting. This creates a win-win situation for everyone: users get the relevant content, and the businesses get a way to reach the interested people.

The Information Marketplace is what is missing in todays web. Search engines help us locate websites and pages of interest, but they do not get us access to regularly updating microcontent. The combination of simplified publishing tools and a syndication mechanism can help in bridging the information gap which exists. Business and the web share one thing in common: connections. This is what the Information Marketplace enables.

Tomorrow: The Road Ahead

TECH TALK Next Billion+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.