one man's journey into creating gibblybits

Friday, June 06, 2008

Let's get small

Original title: the Twitter economy. But if you do a search for "twitter economy," I'm certainly not the first to think of it. Instead, think small. Micro. The future, always going mini, nano, smaller forever.

This is the future, as mobile computing will propel the next great revolution on the world's networks. A nickel here, a dime there, pretty soon we're going to micropay our way into a broader, bigger economy than ever. That is, if we can fix a few things first.

There's an unstable economy of bandwidth, advertising and content on the web right now. A nascent industry over a decade old, the Web (AP style will direct you to capitalize, as in "Mr. Web, sir") is still very much the "wild west" it was just a few years ago. Remember the Gold Rush of the 90's? Pity I didn't register Odd that it is based in Knoxville, like me.

Ultimately there's a glut of data. The reason Google is exploding because they've got the Crocs of search: simple and functional, not exactly sexy, but not ugly, and a catchy name. 

But what I am seeing are some incredible new ways of sorting data. As the Johnson Smith Co. catalog used to proclaim: "Things you never knew existed!" Indeed, as audiences fragment but connect over vast distances, and as travel becomes more restrictive for a variety of socioeconomic reasons, the micro-data user and trader will emerge as the dominant form of traveller upon the internet.

Notice I'm not talking about actual data throughput. The living room will claim that in no time. Once ISP's start metering or restricting explicit protocols, they will begin offering packages to monetize the traffic you need. Right now the market doesn't have a clue. Imagine the "photo" package, with unlimited bandwidth for flickr or .mac or whatever photo sites are approved (or partnered). I know, this is the very thing that'll screw up all the openness and innovation on the web. But I'm just saying you're going to see this-- I'm not exactly happy about it.

Which is why you're going to have a Neapolitan ice cream spectrum for your online proclivities:
  1. a "big brand" ISP model, with data packages, metering, restrictions upon your web experience, for users based mostly in the living room
  2. a mobile package, based on the micro system
  3. an open-ended ISP solution, just like you have now

The question will be whether #3 will last forever. I'm hopeful we could someday have an open mobile network, but the evolution of that is decades away and depends on a great many variables.

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