Is it time that we turned back the clock, figure out what made the web tick, combine it with recent innovative strategies, and then apply it to our innovation strategy? I think so. Read why.
Wow, it really seems like the Web 2.0 rat race is gaining a lot of momentum these days. White label social networking, user-generated content, OpenID, Web 2.0 buttons, TechCrunch; and the list goes on. But wait a minute, what happened to the time where we had web directories? Everything has become so niche-oriented that we've all begun to lose track of what's hot and what's not. Most people's bookmarks are like their iPod playlists - way outdated.
I don't know about anyone else, but isn't it time we take a look at what made the web tick to begin with?
Let's take Yahoo! as an example. I thought they were awesome, as a matter-of-fact, Yahoo! is still my homepage (but not for long). Yahoo! allowed me, as a DJ, to search for dance music charts from all over the world, not just what was hot in Billboard magazine. It gave me an email address. It even allowed me to chat with overweight trolls posing as 16-year-olds and discuss future "plans." Then came Google, a fat-free version of Yahoo!. Thank you! Someone had finally provided a simple search engine that gave you whatever you were searching for without all of the "people stuff" (the fat) that Yahoo! delivered along with its search results.
A couple of years (and Internet girlfriends) later, I started missing Yahoo!, but I couldn't figure out why... Then it dawned on me - I missed its directory service. You know, the one where you could click on "States," "Education," "Universities" and by using a combination of directory options I could find the relevant information I was looking for: a list of universities in the Washington DC metro area. Have you tried doing this with Google? Not exactly rocket science stuff, but not exactly simple either.
I miss that directory stuff. But Yahoo's outdated layout, dead links, advertising overload, spammed Answers section, and lack of simplicity just, well, sucks. Google... I miss the personal touch that Yahoo! provided me. Google is about as dry as the moon when it comes to evoking any air personality.
Search engines... Thanks to well-executed search-engine-optimization strategies at least half of my search results are pretty useless, if not completely irrelevant. Niche markets, vertical search, and segmentation seem to be the way things are done these days. There's only one big problem with all this:
How do you find what you're looking for - easily?
I think it's time for somebody to build a new Yahoo! I think it's time we make the web user-friendly again. I think it's time we make it easy to meet Internet stripper girlfriends that live in a trailer park 30 minutes outside of Vegas. I think it's time people start talking again, period. I think it's time we find the kinds of jobs we're looking for. I think it's time we obtain reviews on various companies and services without getting shafted by a company with neat web 2.0 buttons. I think it's time we began maximizing the learning reach of the web. I think it's time we make things more simple, but with the web 2.0 buttons...
What if we allow users to determine the complexity of what they see, instead of dictating it to them? What if we make the Web about content again, instead of resorting to aggressive advertising strategies so that your angel investors can get more than a 14% projected return-on-investment? How many more affiliate programs do we need out there?
At the risk of sounding overly ambitious, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this: A group of roughly five competent and creative individuals could develop the next generation web portal encompassing the best of Yahoo!, Facebook, Ning, Alexa, Amazon, Monster, Ebay, Craigslist, Answers.com, Match.com, and every other major website we can think of, or that's due to emerge.
Why isn't anybody working on this (Hellooo Yahoo!?). Maybe I just gave my greatest idea away to a stealth startup. Either way, I really want to find some individuals interested in joining me. But until then, I guess I'll be doing it alone.
So, pipe dream or reality?