Steve Harmon是美国风投创始人和管理合作伙伴，曾担任过Jupiter Media公司VP，Paul Kagan Associates机构分析师，他的创业企业Applied Semantics在2003年被谷歌收购，是谷歌Adsense概念创造者之一。现着重投资互联网领域，对中国互联网和网络新媒体有深刻研究。他写的《零重力1.0》和《零重力2.0》成为彭博社最畅销书籍，比尔盖茨、杨致远也读过他写的商业报告。
3年后，AOL收购了时代华纳（Time Warner），并要抢走华德·斯特恩(Howard Stern)的“媒体之王（king of all media）”的称号。
万维网（World Wide Web）（1993-1995）
专业内容网（Professional Content Web）(1996-2003)
The Relevant Web: Need To Know
The history of the Web until now has been about the blocking and tackling of information. Porting offline to online. Yada yada yada.
Social web is kind of a self psycho-analysis sharing of id, ego and super ego.
But what we all really want is this: The Relevant Web. It’s coming now. What you NEED to know.
But let’s see where we’ve been before we get to the future.
Yahoo 1994 when it was hosted at Stanford's server
In 1994 when Yahoo debuted the Web was easy to tally. So many sites all fit nicely into a directory of links. It’s what made Yahoo king. The Web was a hobby, its directory hosted at akebono.stanford.edu where Jerry and David played hooky from their electrical engineering studies. The Web according to Jerry Yang and David Filo was 23,836 links. Here’s Yahoo in 1994:
And it worked. This was before spam. Before advertising. There was nothing to sell and no Viagra to take. I remember it was a great time for the Web, neat and orderly, like a library. In fact, Jerry and David were basically librarians. They used to be speakers at librarian conferences.
By the time Yahoo went public in April 1996 it was the Web to most people. AOL was still a proprietary online service, closed garden, and hadn’t yet discovered mass mailing disks to every home in America. America, and the world, was not online to any large degree.
This was round about the time Apple decided it wanted to be AOL and launched its own closed online service called eWorld. I was one of the first to subscribe and the joke soon became that the ‘e’ in eWorld stood for “empty” since nobody used it. You’d enter the town square and talk to yourself. Echo.
eWorld 1994 - Apple's early online service
By 1996 AOL began mass mailing sign up disks (3.5″ floppy) to every home in America, prompting a surge in its sign ups and boost in its stock. Yes, floppy disks ruled the day, as did 9600 baud dial up modems.
AOL floppy sign up disk
Just 3 years later AOL would go on to acquire Time Warner and proclaim itself “king of all media”, dethroning Howard Stern.
Other early rockets were Pointcast which was more popular than any other single service online. You installed it and it sent you news all day on topics of your choice. Its launch was standing-room only and most IT manager hated it since it hogged their bandwidth. Pointcast was the Twitter of 1996.
Ten years away from profits here’s how Amazon looked when it first debuted:
Amazon's first home page
There are many more examples. Most of the above are no longer the “hottest” or most used sites or services on the Web today. Amazon is a notable exception, based on its customer service and expansion.
So today as Google rules, Twitter tweets, Facebook fawns the fact is that these companies may not be the winners tomorrow. I’d say we’re at another turning point when the big Web is just too cluttered, Google results aren’t very accurate as they were in 2003, Twitter is being overcome by spam, and Facebook has been invaded by gaming ads disguised as “status updates”.
We are at a turning point in the Web and digital media. Bigger than before. The next Web is about relevance. And few companies today deliver anything close to that.
Evolution of the Web:
The World Wide Web (1993-1995)
The Professional Content Web (1996-2003)
The Social Web (2003-20??)
The Relevant Web (20??-20??)
Web, media, retail and other companies today are going to have to make major adjustments to become part of the “relevant Web”. There’s simply too much information flow and clutter for people to digest any more. It’s beyond semantics, it’s awareness of information and data.
Less is more and less means relevance is key. Especially with mobile. Nobody has time to filter through status updates on who’s having what for lunch. Nobody has time for an inbox of spam. Nobody has time for uploading photos of their front yard. Nobody has time for wondering how to keep their message under 140k. Nobody has time for buzz. It’s all the rattle and hum of information without relevance attached.
u2 Rattle and Hum movie poster
Information ABOUT information is the future. Veins of gold in the hillsides of earthen dust.
The relevant Web is here and growing… first a trickle and then a downpour.