‘clouds’ and ‘context’ and web 3.0

Web 1.0 can be seen as embracing the ‘Commerce‘ on the web (amazon, ebay, netflix, etoys +) and a whole bunch of failed dot.com’s that went bust during the March 2000 meltdown. Web 2.0 can be viewed in terms of embracing ‘Community‘ as myspace, youtube, friendster, linkedin and facebook. Niche communities to be part of online. So what is web 3.0? It’s ‘Context and Clouds‘. With Web 3.0, the internet will act as my personal shopper through increased personalization, a built in recommendation engine through your peers in online communities and in the ‘clouds’ – whatever software and media you need will live in a ‘cloud’ (like DropBox) or (set of them) for you to tap into anytime just using a browser. webtonic.jpg

In order for the web to really become a ‘personal’ shopper and recommendation tool it has the potential to become, it needs to get my data. The enormous amount of data that is being collected by various services will over time be used to deliver specific and personal media to me. And its not just media that will be suggested. Everything from what interests me personally – clothing to household appliances will be ‘personalized’ just for me. And frankly, some call this an invasion of privacy. To me, it’s finally a tune-up of how advertising should work. If TV advertising worked this way, we’d all be happier to sit through some ads on TV. But it doesn’t. And the internet will be able to ‘perfect’ what TV has been unable to do since the 1940’s. old-tv-set.jpg Let’s take a quick look at TV.

On TV, advertisements run on certain programs based on the demographic and audience measurement data gathered by Nielsen. Nielsen operates in over 100 countries. Nielsen was founded in 1923. Nielsen conducts these tests by calling the locals and asking them what they are watching at the moment.

The system has been updated and modified extensively since it was developed in the early 1940s. It has since been the primary source of audience measurement information in the television industry around the world. Since television as a business makes money by selling audiences to advertisers ($65 billion spent on TV in 2006, Ad Age), the Nielsen Television Ratings are the single most important element in determining advertising rates, schedules, and program content.

Nielsen Television Ratings are gathered by one of two ways; by extensive use of surveys, where viewers of various demographics are asked to keep a written record (called a diary) nielsendiary.jpg of the television programming they watch throughout the day and evening, or by the use of Set Meters, which are small devices connected to every television in selected homes. These devices gather the viewing habits of the home and transmit the information nightly to Nielsen through a “Home Unit” connected to a phone line.

OK, so its 2008. Doesn’t the above sound a little ‘tired’ already?

Now switch to the internet. While some people are irked by ‘cookies’ and other’s by giving away information on forms or saving a ‘preference’ on a website or which websites are in ‘my favorites’ or ‘bookmarks’, these actions eventually will all allow advertisers to better target each of us and offer a service/goods or media that I’d really consider owning. And it’s the web services that mine this info through my interaction with them that are the best. Google being the first and best at it, is now a ‘brand’ name. And it’s the only brand name that doesn’t advertise and never has (think about it). It engages. Its very core looks to help and through its offering of great services to us, allows it to gather information about us and tailor its ads and services accordingly. I use many services offered by Google. In exchange for this, I’ve given some of my personal info to Google.

New ‘vertical’ search efforts like sidestep (travel), icerocket (blogs) imedix (medical) and other ‘niche’ search products will further help advertisers deliver specific services for each of us that are helpful and useful. Google has done a great job in a broad sense but now it appears that there are many new ‘vertical’ search engines that specialize in searching very specific ‘ niche’ subjects and categories. Drilling down where Google is not. Over the course of the next several years I think we will see several ‘vertical’ search engines giving Google a run for its money.

But that’s another post for a different day.

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Privacy – Part 2

I’ve written about this before (11-25-2007) and now Alec Sunders, co-founder and CEO of iotum wrote a great privacy manifesto for the web. Someday, someone will start a service on the net that will allow one to control these aspects of our privacy shhh.jpg . This is a service I’d pay for in a heart beat. Here is what Alec sees as the 4 basic prongs of web ‘privacy’ guidelines:

  1. Every customer has the right to know what private information is being collected. That rules out any secret data collection schemes, as well as monitoring regimes that the customer hasn’t agreed to in advance. It also rules out any advertising scheme that relies on leaving cookies on a customer’s hard disk without the customer’s consent.
  2. Every customer has the right to know the purpose for which the data is being collected, in advance. Corporations must spell out their intent, in advance, and not deviate from that intent. Reasonable limits must be imposed on the collection of personal information that are consistent with the purpose for which it is being collected. Furthermore, the common practice of inserting language into privacy policies stating that the terms may be modified without notice should be banned. If the corporation collecting data wishes to change its policy then it’s incumbent upon the corporation to obtain the consent of customers in advance.
  3. Each customer owns his or her personal information. Corporations may not sell that information to others without the customer’s consent. Customers may ask, at any time, to review the personal information collected; to have the information corrected, if that information is in error; and to have the information removed from the corporation’s database.
  4. Customers have a right to expect that those collecting their personal information will store it securely. Employees and other individuals who have access to that data must treat it with the same level of care as the organization collecting it is expected to.

In many parts of the world, governments are now creating legislation embodying the four principles of this Privacy Manifesto. Citizens of those countries have responded favorably, rewarding businesses that assure their privacy, and penalizing those that don’t. In Canada, for example, personal information is protected by something known as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and as a result, it’s not unheard of for customers to patronize businesses that store their data locally. Many Europeans are equally sensitive.

Not only are the four principles of the Privacy Manifesto good for individuals, they’re good for business.