Anil Dash has a terrific post on the web we let go when we went easy on the attributes that brought us all here in favor of the convenient and easy. The thing that got me about the piece was the thread it pulled from a half decade ago around RSS and podcasts and more generally the world of great possibilities around people publishing to a world of humans and machines who listened. That is clearly gone now when it comes to the open web, replaced by a sort of sharecropping of eyeballs and identity in the face of the inexorable march of the business model. If indeed the purest expression of intent is the Google Search then that is the world we are all left dealing with: looking for the digital crumbs that might be worth pennies on the dollar of search harvesting intent be they social or mobile pennies— neither of which will ever be as good as what the Great Google once brought us.
But what Anil's piece hints at is a world where we might have ended up with a set of richer social experiments where syndication and personal publishing might have led to a more interesting set of equilibria where new business models might have emerged that were not centered on harvesting first order intent or even just eyeballs to be “looked alike” or “retargeted” for the sake of the ever ephemeral CPM. He does not lay out what that world might look like because he just doesn’t know— and neither do we, at least not until some brave entrepreneur dares to dream big outside of the current context and show us where we might be going from here.
And until then, we’ll just have to rely on William Gibson and his view that thought the future might already be here, it simply is just not widely distributed.
Merry Christmas 2012 everybody!