As the internet continues to advance, the ways we use and experience it will evolve.
A neighborhood is a community of people usually brought together by similar circumstances. There are certain aspects of the community that all people there commonly enjoy. One is the network itself. Social networks are simply gateways of access and connection to basically opportunities, and social networks have existed offline for a very long time.
On the web it is no different. I break the neighborhoods of the web down by their community’s purpose. Right now there is only one neighborhood that is really distinguishable, and continuing to grow rapidly – the social one. It is a huge web of social communities, each with their own functions, all linked together for one reason or another. I call what is commonly referred to as web 2.0, the collection of all of these social functions, the Social Neighborhood.
But the Social Neighborhood is beginning to splinter. It is getting so big, and so customized for specific purposes that separate neighborhoods are beginning to form, each with their own unique experiences. The Social Neighborhood will in fact be the mother of all other neighborhoods to come, because of the universally social nature it shares with the web itself. All other neighborhoods, I believe, will eventually reach the same proportions of the Social Neighborhood right now, and may go beyond.
The reason I call the different purposes of internet use, neighborhoods, is because as they continue to develop, they begin to take on their completely own spaces, feels, functions, and uses, just like neighborhoods in traditional society, and the metaphor at parallel is an important one.
Think of the web as a city. A huge conglomeration of infinite complexity. A hub, for anything. There are many different neighborhoods..many different purposes for the web. The neighborhoods right now are relatively small and unorganized, centered around the main Social Neighborhood, mostly because of the lack of new tools and organization to really make drastic changes. But still, progress is being made slowly.
A couple quickly emerging neighborhoods right now are the gaming networks, news discovery networks, music networks, and the common socialization networks, like facebook, and even 2nd Life, although 2nd Life has been proven to have a wealth of purposes. A neighborhood that I believe will explode in the near future will be shopping social networks.
To explore deeper what I mean, lets look at one of the farthest along examples right now, the gaming platforms. Gaming is continuing to get a lot more social, with a lot more p2p interaction. As this is happening, it’s creating new virtual communities, where the experience of web use is completely transformed, from the navigation throughout, to interaction with others, and everything is made custom for the specific experience of playing the game.
Other environments, specific to other web usage, will begin to emerge as well, and the looks, feels, and total embodiment of the web will begin to evolve rapidly. The web is quickly becoming more like a place, rather than a thing. It’s a place we go to find something we need..music, information, good deals, ect. It makes perfect sense that the web will actually adapt to suit these specific needs, and new kinds of experiences will emerge individually.
I envision a vast online map of virtual communities and experiences, more similar to the ones we enjoy in real life. I see things like virtual pools halls, virtual car dealerships and test drives, more advanced ways of experiencing the web, like with full peripheral glasses, and even augmented reality integration with our everyday lives.
A great example of the difference between now and the future can be described by shopping online for music right now, say on iTunes, and shopping in a real music store. The difference is staggering. Despite the ease of iTunes, I often hear people say they prefer the intimacy of strolling through the racks of music, and physically rooting through the albums. Because of that, I’ve actually created a 3D virtual music store for Beat-Play that recreates the experience of being in a real store, while allowing for all the same benefits of an online store..no lines, open 24 hours, instant checkout and downloads, ect.
This is one example of how the current interaction and organization of the internet could actually evolve to be both more realistic, and more encompassing of the user’s need for a satisfying experience. As all of these neighborhoods continue to grow, and get more organized and advanced, so will the ways we access them, making web usage extremely more efficient, and even more fun.
I am very excited for the future of the internet, and I love the direction it seems to be heading in. I can’t wait for things like teleporting from virtual site to virtual site, infinitely customizable browsers, and infinite scalability in virtual social networks. These may all be topics for another blog…I really just can’t get enough.
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC