Evolution of the Internet and what it says about us

Recently I was reflecting on how the internet has developed – following roughly the following stages:

  • Libraries and Universities post their information online – Internet as extension of the library
  • Corporations and Organizations build websites – Internet as extension of advertising space
  • Sophisticated users build their sites – Revenge of the Nerds – Meritocracy allows smart people to be heard louder
  • Everyone can build a site – Power to the people, internet is like flea market anyone can set up a table and peddle their wares.
  • Early Social Networking – We all create our own channels and tune in to the networks only occasionally
  • Everyone is Networking – Twitter – We are the network – continued decentralization of flow of information.

Note that even in today’s situation – many of the tweets and blogs point to content which is traditional media – this has not been displaced – but it definitely seems that there is a higher bar to meet. There may no longer be room for 200 newspapers in the US – perhaps only 20 can survive in their full glory.

What’s with the hyperactivity?

It’s interesting that as we have gone from the first graphical web browser (Spyglass Mosaic) to Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 8 (does anyone use that?) each successive step has been characterized by shorter attention spans and more linking.

Twitter is the epitome of short attention span – get it all down in 140 characters or less. No room for a whole link – suddenly bit.ly and tinyurl are a service everyone needs! I came to the realization last week (at about the same time as SarKE) that internet marketers as a group seem to be blessed with Attention Deficiency. Or perhaps they have the ability to be very focused on many different projects for very short periods of time. In any case, rather than being a disability – having a short attention span and being somewhat impulsive seems to be related to success in internet marketing.

Twitter makes perfect sense to people like me (Hyperactive Sam) who can’t wait until you finish your sentence – we are already on to the next thing. Sometimes 140 characters seems like an awful lot of characters when all you want to do is share a link 🙂

Explaining Twitter to a Newbie…

tweetbird2Until recently I believed that Twitter was a very odd pastime for people who were narcissistic or lonely. That was until my friend Kelli Brown who’s a Twitter expert gave me a few tips. The truth is that I already believed there might be some value in Twitter a year ago – that’s when I started my first twitter account, on the advice of my friend Mayer Reich at RankAbove. At that time I took a very popular website that had a lot of updates on a daily basis, but did not have a twitter account. I made a twitter account with their name and then used TwitterFeed to automatically feed updates from the sites RSS directly to the twitter account. That was about a a year ago – now I have over 45,000 followers. Seriously. I haven’t made any money from this yet – well maybe $20 from ad clicks… By the way – I get tens of messages daily from this account and I don’t exactly know what to do. I suspect that the company itself probably wants to control the twitter account that I created for them. The problem is that if they try to contact me via a direct message I won’t read it because I have hundreds of messages waiting to be read, oh well….

Anyway, Fast forward to now. This is what I want  to say:

I divide the Twitter experience into two parts:

– Friends and Followers

– Realtime information

In the realm of Friends and Followers I can only make sense of people who are careful about who they follow and keep their group of “friends” very relevant to them. In this realm I see Twitter as a way  to listen  in to what your circle of friends is saying – a little like being on an email list where people share links and short thoughts – but with more latitude.

As far as Realtime Information – this is where I see the real value. Google is no doubt a great search engine, but Twitter adds 2 very important things that Google misses out (so far).

  1. Real People
  2. Right Now

Google tells you what websites say, it includes some news and blogs and even shopping, but its not “regular people” who don’t have a website or a blog. Google is really fast – we have seen them cache pages in a minute or so, but for most searches – the results on Google seem to be months old.

Why do we care?

Say you wanted to take a vacation to Italy – if you search on Google you will see tour companies and official sites. Try searching on Twitter. Now you see tweets about renting a houseboat in Venice, staying at a cottage, etc. Twitter gets you past the corporate sites and down to real people. Even when you end up on a corporate site via Twitter, your chances of having a real person to answer questions is very high.

So, for me, Twitter is a reflection of what real people are saying right now.

Now imagine interacting with real people, right now – you can ask them questions – make them offers – communicate with them. And they opt in to your conversation, either by following you or by searching a term that you tweeted about.

Think about it…

Getting Started

hyperIt’s been seven years since I started doing business online – so I decided to start a blog.

I plan to share my insights and funny stories about:

  • Working in the online environment
  • What I am learning about people and about myself
  • Experiences I have had that may help you in your work
  • Anything else I want to tell the world