The collection of social and information technologies informally known as Web2.0 have created a rich universe of applications - but a scattershot one. We plug lots of our information into websites everywhere - MySpace and Digg, Friendster and Yahoo!, and everywhere, Google, Google, Google. Yet it’s as if we’re spending all of our time building information silos; piles of data which are essentially unconnected. It’s getting dull. How many times do I need to list my friends, or my contact information, or my favorite bands?
We know why it’s happening: commercial interests are overruling the natural pooling and sharing of information that would actually bring some utility to this mountain of data we’re generating about ourselves. Yet the pressure to share is building up: the recent explosive emergence of mash-ups, which juxtapose two or three or more services in unique and valuable ways shows us that the hybrid always trumps the thoroughbred. And that’s just on internet services. Very few of us control the mountain of data we generate as we pass through this world - everyone wants it (for their own purposes), yet we - who are creating it - never have access to it.
It’s time to revisit the entire philosophy of interaction design on the Web, time to move the focus away from the site-as-resource, toward an idea of the site-as-personal-enabler. What we each bring to a website - or rather, what we should bring to a website - is a wealth of information about ourselves. This is the real resource of Web2.0, and the next place the Web is going. The exuberance around social networks shows us that people want to connect - it’s time for designers to build the tools which will truly enable that connection.