The Personal Web

Doc Searls’ latest post points to a post by Louis Ray defining the third wave of the Web (a.k.a. Web 3.0) as the Personal Web.

The value of the first wave was in the information itself (static Web, a.k.a. Web 1.0); the value of the second wave was in the sharing of information (social web, a.k.a. Web 2.0); the value of the third wave will be in the personalization of the Web experience. One of the key points is here the selection of information, the curation of information, as we are increasingly overflowed with information and content. Companies like Louis Ray’s my6sense are proposing to do just that.

On his post, Doc Searls compares the client-server relationship to a calf-cow relationship, with a strong dependency relationship between a service provider and its users, as exemplified by Facebook, Twitter, and many more. This kind of relationship puts the entire control in the hands of the service provider, which seems very wrong. Doc Searls’ example of Apple’s App Store conditions is the perfect example of this flawed relationship.

Everybody agrees that the personal Web includes personal mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, combined with contextual information, in particular location information. Personal devices will be important for building the personal Web, but not every application running on these devices belongs to the Personal Web. Old-style social services and information feeds will still be around, but making them “personal” on a mobile device is not sufficient.

A personal application needs to truly aim at providing the user with the best possible experience. In this best possible experience, of course, spam, unwanted ads, and other useless content should be gone. This can of course be considered as a threat to a flourishing business model by mobile marketers around the world. However, some other guys will see that as a wonderful opportunity: how to work with the users to bring them commercial information that they value? After all, most of us are actually considering a few purchases at any given time, and timely information about the offer would have a wonderful conversion rate. Let me take an example: I am currently looking for a bed for my son, because his bad quality bed broke. Today, I have two solutions to get information about beds: (1) take my car and drive around the area looking at furniture stores, or (2) Google what I am looking for, and search individually on each site. Both approaches are terribly ineffective, I just want to find a “bed for a 5-year-old boy, including plenty of storage, and if possible a small pull-out desk”. Well, this search is almost intractable, and I can’t find what I am looking for.

Of course, that is what VRM is about. Together with personalized curation, this is an important part of the Personal Web, but there is more into it. In particular, I want to regain ownership on my data, because it is mine. And I want to decide with whom I want to share it, and be able to change my mind.

If we go beyond VRM applications, the Personal Web will affect all aspects of computing. Let’s consider one of my favorite examples, Java Card 3.0 Connected. So far, this technology has failed to find a market. The main idea was to sell super-SIM cards to MNOs, allowing them to push more (static) content and more (social) services to their (captive) users. It didn’t work, for many reasons, but mostly because “smartphones ate our market”.

Java Card 3.0 Connected has some advantages, though: it is local, it is secure, it provides a Web interface. And it is really personal, in particular when it sits in a mobile phone. So, maybe that we can try to find someone (MNO for a SIM, but maybe also a phone manufacturer for an embedded SE, or anybody else for a secure SD Card) who would like to exploit this personal, interactive, secure token to bring elements of the Personal Web to their users. Plenty of applications are possible; the business model don’t necessarily exist today, but the space will be taken before the business model is ready.

So, let’s see who takes the space …

One Comment

  • lexdabear wrote:

    I really liked Doc Searls’ blog about the personal web. The last statement that “free customers are more valuable than captive ones” is merely an opinion though. It would be great to see some data which shows that. I guess “valuable” you would measure with the conventional analysis functions like click rate, and so on.
    So “if” we would turn this relationship around and place all of my personal data onto my personal chip aka smart card controller with a standardized web interface, it might technically work out. But I also sense the business rules or policies how I interact with different services will be a real challenge. Don’t forget that we got great web based products and variety due to the existing web 2.0. The possibilities and profit are a big driver for this inventions. If we lock up personal data, it’s hard to predict if we will continue with the same pace.

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