The New Internet Examined

And the winner is: blogs. Merriam-Webster recently announced that “blog” was the 2004 Word of the Year, as based on yielding the highest number of user queries. But the word “blog” is only part of what is now often being described as the “New Internet”.

Loosely defined, the New Internet consists of blogs, RSS, and wikis. The average netizen is still quite unaware of the latter two terms. Potential 2005 and 2006 winners? (note: Merriam-Webster online currently does not even contain entries for ‘RSS’ or ‘wiki’).

Beyond the hype and the fact that most web surfers still do not know what a newsfeed is, the New Internet will transform the web. In fact, it is already beginning to do so for two reasons: better content management and better user interface.

Great content and great design are the quintiscencial elements to a successful online presence. Chris Alden, the CEO of Rojo recently stated, “Content is the third ‘killer app’ of the Internet, after email and search.” On the interface side, Ross Mayfield, the founder of Socialtext, spoke to the “social” element of these new technologies:

it’s not so much about the technology, but more about the practice and how it is used in a way that’s actually changing people’s minds and the way they are working. We spent a lot of time developing physical infrastructure, and now we have to develop the social infrastructure on top of it.

And that is an important point. The New Internet does not promise to be like the dot.com boom (and eventual bust), where everyone and their mother thought they could monopolize on the technology behind the Internet. Sure, there is a lot of buzz surrounding blogs. According to Technorati, a popular blog search engine, a new blog is created every 7.4 seconds. To some extent, having a blog or blogging is a fad – when used by the average joe surfer.

Put that blog into the hands of a professor, VP, or SME, and you have a whole different story. That is the point that Mayfield and others are making – that the technology can be used to change “the way [people] are working.” Add to this enhanced user experience a neat and tidy means for content creators to manage their work and that is a winning proposition, on both sides. The New Internet is a recipe for success.