Web of Verbs

    September 1, 2005

Yesterday Alex Pang held a fascinating conversation at an IFTF open space meeting on the use of the term Cyberspace.

The notion of the internet as a place seems to be degrading. Alex will probably produce a far more articulate piece about this and I should have channeled in the Doc or David Weinberger (thus so), but wanted to get out some thoughts.

Clay Shirky coined Social Software when he found that groupware didn’t account for the group forming activity both in the consumer and enterprise space and augmenting in-room interaction (e.g. Meetups). I use the word augment very purposely, as the Web’s greater innovation over the past couple of years has not been about technology or personal personal productivity, but enhancing our capabilities to act with groups.

NetGens think of the computer as a door, not a box. When they are on, they have 5-7 IM windows open and multiple tabs into different communities. Each community provides a way of being, to express facets of their identity while engaging in an activity. Most activities are centered around objects to spin stories and hold conversations. They don’t go to places, it’s more likely they augment plazes in the real world. With increasing mobility they tap groups for what they need to get done no matter where they are and make where they are matter. They Google, Flickr, Blog, contribute to Wikipedia, Socialtext it, Meetup, post, subscribe, feed, annotate and above all share. In other words, the web is increasingly less about places and other nouns, but verbs.

Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.