eBulletin - Alan Dix (vfridge limited, aQtive limited and Lancaster University)

the web sharer vision

First distributed as an aQtive internal vision document March 1999 (some parts removed for external distribution). Since this was first written, some of this vision has become reality, for example a 2003 survey shows nearly half of US internt users also creay content. This was also the driver behind vfridge.

products for tomorrow

The emergence of PopuNet suggests that there will be whole new classes of product to meet a changing world of virtual connectedness. But what are these new product categories?

where we are — the one-way-web

Currently the web has two overlapping, but still distinct communities:

  • the providers — web developers/authors/publishers, who produce pages and sites and master the intricacies of HTML, GIF images and Flash.
  • the consumers — web users/readers/surfers, who search for, navigate and interact with web content, but do not modify or change what they see.

Although the same person may, at different times, act in both these roles, they are quite distinct activities. In fact, I often use my own web pages as a launch pad to reach others, so act as a consumer of my own material!

This broadcast model seems to be set to grow as large vendors, such as Microsoft/AOL/Netscape, push content provision and as integration with existing broadcast services develops. Set-top boxes may allow interactive television, but strictly within the boundaries set by the programme producers.

but … who are web developers?

The web was designed to allow more interaction between reader and material — what happened to that?

Many people are both providers and consumers, mounting their own web pages and also looking at others.

ISPs offer free web space, obviously expecting their customers to want to mount their own material — is everyone a web developer/author?

Certainly the established major web users will be — often semi-professional, reasonably PC literate. But will this extend to the growing ranks of the 'connected' from broader backgrounds?

a choice

The web is at a crossroads — does the future belong to the large scale producers ... can the 'amateur' web page survive?

Even if every 'Channel 4' web user becomes a web author, will the wider public simply become an army of passive 'listeners'?

the future

Although everyone isn't a web developer, it is likely that soon everyone will become an Internet communicator — email, PC-voice-comms, bulletin boards, etc. For some this will be via a PC, for others using a web-phone, set-top box or Internet-enabled games console.

Some of this communication, such as email, is person-to-person, but others, such as bulletin boards and email lists, have a more community aspect. Many web pages also allow feedback forms and guestbooks, some of which are automatically published back onto the web. At this point the 'published' page becomes more of a notice-board, part of a shared virtual space.

Direct communication is just one side of inter-personal interaction. In both private and business life we communicate in a physical context continually including physical artefacts of our work or home life in the conversation. We huddle over holiday brochures and television listings, shop windows and bus timetables, car engines and family photographs.

Physical human interaction is about sharing words and things within a shared context.

The web/Internet is not just a medium for publishing, but a potential shared place.

Everyone may be a web sharer — not a publisher of formal public 'content', but personal or semi-private sharing of informal 'bits and pieces' with family, friends, local community and virtual communities such as fan clubs.

This is not just a future for the cognoscenti, but for anyone who chats in the pub or wants to show granny in Scunthorpe the baby's first photos.



Toys for the Boys or Jobs for the Girls. Distinguished Guest Lecture. BCS Cheltenham and Gloucester Branch. 2.15pm Wed. 14th Nov. 2001, CGCHE, Cheltenham, UK.

marketplace ecology - managing the interconnected market groups of the Internet. understanding the way feedback between different groups lead to market growth. bulletin

the lattice of value. principles for designing complementary products that foster their own spread. bulletin

network effects. brief review of network effects and externalities literature in relation to market ecology. bulletin

Cyber-economies and the Real World
keynote at SAICSIT'2001 - South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists Annual Conference. Pretoria, 25-28 September 2001. extended abstract and slides

diversity density Measuring the information loss in the supply chain and changes in the new economy. bulletin

artefact + marketing = product Internet products are formed not just by design, but by how they are sold. bulletin
also in Interfaces, no. 48, Autumn 2001

in a strange land: modelling and understanding cyberspace.
Human-Computer Interaction in the 21st Century". Graz, Austria, 13th January 2001
talk paper and slides

market ecology and market engineering understanding the networked market and designing products to transform it. bulletin

understanding the e-Market and designing products to fit.
E-commerce - issues and directions, London, Jan 2000
talk abstract and slides

the web sharer vision - the producer/consumer distinction breaks down on the web, a whole new class of web products will emerge for the new class of web sharers. bulletin

PopuNET - pervasive, permanent access to the Internet. bulletin

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http://www.hiraeth.com/alan/ebulletin/ © Alan Dix, November 1999