One of the most exciting phases of evolution of the internet in recent years has been its change from an anonymous text based web to one that is transparent, personal and realistic- full of pictures and videos of you and me. While some of the privacy paranoid conspiracy theorists still freak out about evil powerhouses using it for world domination, I think it has been an incredible shift for the good. I remember in about 2005 when we signed up for websites no one ever used their real name. When you interacted online it was as userbot43 talking to Sugarcookie76. Largely thanks to Facebook the veil of anonymity has fallen and revealed that the internet is not full of sex offending creepsters but instead people like you, me, my mom and your uncle in Malaysia. [You could perhaps argue causality as now the creepsters have nothing to hide behind and at the same time the internet has become more accessible to my mom. Thanks Steve.] What this means is that the internet is now more than ever grounded in the real world. It is no longer scary or intimidating to meet up with strangers from the internet because you see who they are through their Facebook profile- you see that they are in fact real people with real lives, families and friends.
Web 2.0, the open collaborative web, has extended beyond the internet into the real world. It allows people to connect at speeds and levels that was never even fathomed. Daily I find myself connecting two strangers together on Facebook because I think they could share information on something or to meet out of common interest, and in return I find myself getting connected to other amazing people in my second degree network. It’s also incredible how willing people are to spend 2-5 minutes typing answers to someone else’s question. Being helpful has never been so easy, nor so open. It actually becomes fun. And through that interaction- the stranger spice that occurs when bouncing off ideas generates new ideas on both sides of the line. But it’s not anonymous- next time we are in the same city we will meet for a drink and think nothing out of the ordinary of it.
The Second talk that captured my interest this weekend takes all this further to discuss the rise in collaborative consumption in our society- addressing another inherently human trait- The urge to share – and how the web has enabled to this with great ease. lots to say about it but for now I’ll let Rachel Botsman do the talking:
This talk was from 2010 and things have moved on so much from then. Rachel talks about reputation as a credible currency and it has become. Things like Air BNB allows a complete stranger to live in your house while you are away on holiday for a few days on a trust solely based on reputation. Shocked as you might be to hear, it has become extremely successful and surprisingly safe. if this blows your mind as much as it does mind read more about Air BNB – #19 in Fast Company’s 50 most innovative companies 2012
The collaborative web has allowed us to be more collaborative in the real world. Ask for a recommendation for a restaurant or a hotel on facebook and wait for the results to come pouring in- all from people you know enough to sort through tastes.
An extremely innovative viral internet-real world hybrid project called Make Sense started by a two friends backpacking through India with a curiosity in Social Business. Meeting entrepreneurs around the country and with a few spare hours of time they helped some of them solve small technical or business issues. Along their 6 month journey they collected followers via Facebook and twitter, activating everyone’s buried passion to change the world, showing them that they could do more than wish, they could actually participate. The movement has grown into a vast network of plugged in #socent enthusiasts who meet in various cities around the world to propel social innovation and solve challenges met by strapped-for-cash social entrepreneurs. Currently the movement is spread from two people cycling around South America to Hackathons in China stopping in San Fran, Europe and North Africa along the way- connecting 313 members around the globe through Facebook to meet up and engage in projects of all kinds. This thing only started about a year ago. Can I get a Holy Sh**t?
Keeping to this collaborative web–real world theme here are some cool websites i’ve come across recently:
Life Classes created by the truly experienced given to anyone interested in super fascinating subjects. Connecting the Old and Wise with the Young and Capable, amazing!
A slightly less amazing version of the same concept, anyone with a hoby, interest, expertise can create experiences for anyone willing to participate. so awesome.
Dating is more fun when you are doing something. fun date ideas to make it less…datey.
(make sure you try the workify button top right)
Thanks for reading, this was a big one.