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The Transient Web

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I have been on the Web for 12 years now and the Internet for many more, going all the way back to BBSs, CompuServe and Genie.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that the Web is a very transient place. People are like birds. They consistently migrate to new sites and services. Consider the following.

Today the default Internet Explorer home page is MSN.com. Next year it will be Windows Live.

A year ago if you wanted to watch videos you turned to Real Player. Today it’s YouTube, Revver, OurMedia or Google Video.

Two years ago if we wanted to look up an obscure fact, you went to Encarta. Now we go to Wikipedia.

Three years ago we found old friends on Friendster. Today we find new friends on MySpace.

Four years ago, we browsed lots of news sites and subscribed to email newsletters. Today we read blogs through RSS feeds.

Five years ago we searched for images on Google Image Search. Today we look for tags on Flickr.

Six years ago it was all about Yahoo. Today it’s all about Google.

Seven years ago Amazon was at $100, more than twice what it is today. Today Google is at $415.

Eight years ago you read your personal email in Outlook Express. Now you read it on the Web.

Nine years ago we played Acrophobia online. Today we play Xbox Live or Second Life.

Ten years ago we formed communities on GeoCities. Today we form communities through connected spaces like the blogosphere.

The moral of the story is if you look back at your browsing habits over the past ten years, it’s highly likely that some of the sites you visit frequently now are not the same ones you visited two, four or six years ago. The Web is a transient place. People move around a lot.

Only one site, eBay, seems to have retained users over the past ten years. And that’s because they listened to their community and innovated. Google, so far, has done the same. But will they? Time will tell but $415 a share says they won’t because the Web is increasingly flat.

(Disclaimer – Xbox, MySpace and Revver are Edelman clients)

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Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

The Transient Web
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