Here at e3 we recently had the pleasure to travel up to Cardiff, to attend the Web Is conference. We mingled, discussed, chatted and tweeted with some web experts to discuss what the web is. Some interesting talks came from it - there were 17 in total and a few in particular resonated with me.
THE WEB IS… IN THE HANDS OF THE 97ERS
A recent talk by Emma Mulqueeny explained that we should feel responsible for the younger audience that are now on the web: the generation born in 1997 (named the 97ers) and those younger have grown up with social media.
These young digital users are already leaps ahead of where we were at the same age. They’ve already started peer to peer learning and are getting important messages much faster than we ever did. The role of identity is crucial to the 97ers - a name doesn’t necessarily mean that’s who they are, it’s their stories that matter, so this involves photos of themselves, or with their peers, which acts as the main identifier.
She then suggests we should try not to police this young audience as it affects their identity - their social/online community is their comfort zone - they know how to influence by tweaking messages until it works and most important of all they’ve figured out how to get those all-important likes.
But this generation can be an arrogant one. Going into the wider world they feel unsafe and seek self-employment, which fosters a sense of entrepreneurism. However, they are more interested in long-term employment than getting a job within a large organisation where recession is the norm.
It’s our responsibility to help them grow up, find their place in the world and, in time, start running the show.
THE WEB IS… LIKE WATER
Scott Jenson began his talk about the car, and when it was first invented. It began with the tiller, which was first used in Europe in 1894. People found that they needed irreversible steering to prevent too much feedback from potholes, and thus, the tiller was abandoned and the steering wheel invented.
At present, Jenson argues that apps are our tiller - we are currently ‘following native’, not driving the future. We have app myopia, but people are forgetting that it’s difficult to get people to install apps in the first place and will only install them if they are important. We need something that’s new and exciting and we can take or leave - the assumption that each new device will require its own application just isn't realistic.
So we need to start thinking small. We only need a small piece of information to gain access to what we need at any given moment. For example, at the bus stop we want information about the next bus, when it will arrive and if it will be on time.
The web needs a discovery service, low energy bluetooth device that constantly broadcasts a URL. As you get closer you can connect with your smart device and get *a Webpage*. These small ‘Physical Web Beacons’, which Jenson sums up as ‘interaction on demand’, are an early-stage experimental project which is being developed out in the open.
An interesting project and one to keep an eye on.
A key theme within the Conference was how open the Web is and how much we forget it. After all, it’s the most sharing community in the world and although that’s difficult to do for some people, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
But why share? Well, because we can, it’s cheap and other people can contribute, trying to solve another person’s problem is usually a lot easier than solving your own.
We each have something to contribute, we each have our own knowledge and experiences and gaining that knowledge is an iterative and cumulative process. An idea can develop much faster among the online community and eventually snowball into something truly great.
For me, this famous tweet by Tim Berners-Lee during the 2012 summer Olympics opening ceremony summarises this idea about the web perfectly: ‘This is for everyone’.
So keep sharing!