The web gave us the perfect “nowhere.” A Star Trek fan in Houlton, Maine can talk with another fan from ReykjavÃk, Iceland, without thinking a thing about it. We can be anywhere, and if you follow through, anywhen, and thus, we don’t need proximity to build relationships (or customers, or much of anything). The first web, the brochure web, gave way to the second web, the two-way web. What if the third web is about the relationship of things and places between the physical world and the placeless, timeless world? I’m calling this vplaces (more in a bit).
Our web has already shifted. Bridges tell us when they are up and down. Laundry rooms report their status. The web of things now connects the physical world with the web world. Here’s where my thinking started getting into something else.
vplaces, pplaces, and tplaces
The web of nowhere relates to vplaces. You might be thinking Second Life. I’m not. Well, okay. Second Life can be part of it. But the web of nowhere is the web we have today. I can write this blog post anywhere in the world (Seattle, Boston, Fresno). You can read it anywhere (Mumbai, Glasgow, Detroit). It’s the web of “it doesn’t matter where things are.”
The web of nowhere is not necessarily real time, either. Blogs and plenty of websites Thus, the web of nowhen is also the non-realtime. As we’re starting to become more and more interested in realtime, with tools like FriendFeed and other lifestreaming devices and applications, there’s also more and more pull for the time-shifted web, or tplaces.
What do I mean? Phone calls are synchronous. The real-time web is synchronous. Events and real space activities are synchronous. But there’s value in time-displaced events, too. For instance, if I mix a combo of physical world places (pplaces) and timeshifted information (tplaces), I get services like BrightKite, where I can leave notes in the air in a place for someone to come along and find them.
What other combos are there? If you mix vplaces and pplaces, there are many opportunities. Think about all the various Apple iPhone apps that use GPS as one component, like NIN Access. Think about Microsoft Tag. Think about situations where the web doesn’t have to be a static page any more. Think about a web that comes together are things, around objects talking to each other and us, around places that are a mix of physical and otherwise.
What Am I Ranting About?
I admit this doesn’t have immediate and obvious application, and yet it does. To me, it does. I see this as clearly as anything. To me, if you design for the web of today, you’ll get what everyone else has. If you start planning for these new webs, of places, of timeshifting, of mapping the physical into the web and back again, you’ll start to find the new vectors, the new possibilities.
What does this say to you? Anything? Did your eyes light up?