“What’s the next big thing?” everyone started asking back at the turn of the century – after the internet really hit it big. After the dot-com boom had come and crashed and crept back up again. When the world started to realize that the internet was here to stay, that it was a part of our lives, that it was indispensable. It was old hat.
“What’s next?” we asked. We looked at the few surviving dot-com giants. Amazon was huge. Ebay had become universally accepted. Google and Yahoo! were the new search engine/advertising moguls. Who was going to come up with the next killer app?
“What’s a blog?” Blogger, MoveableType, LiveJournal, and all sorts of easy-to-use publishing services sprouted out of nowhere. People kept journals, and many thought that was the extent of where blogs would go. Sure, services like Geocities and Angelfire had provided a way for the non web developer to create a personal site, but they didn’t provide the crucial element of content creation. With blogs, anyone could publish any type of content on a regular basis – and that’s what people did. The world published and published and published, until today, I’d venture to say that the majority of destinations on the internet are made up of blogs in one form or another. But it doesn’t stop there.
“So, what is the next big thing?” we continue to look around. We look everywhere – at companies, at the internet, at the world around us – everywhere but at each other. We are the next big thing. People are changing the internet. We’re deciding what news to read, and we’re providing the news. Social networks and tagging services like del.icio.us and MyWeb 2.0 are becoming the new mechanism with which to get information. These are the new CNN headlines. Personalized search engines like ROLLYO will provide more meaningful results when looking online. The world is rating and valuing the rest of the world with sites like Froogle and PriceGrabber. Companies can’t fool us anymore because we’ll tell on them. The next big thing is already happening; we just didn’t stop to realize how big this phenomenon really is. We’ve entered a new age. Welcome to the Participation Age.