Future of the Web: it’s CAPP

There was quite a list of Web 2.0-ish homepage & portal offerings on Techcrunch’s This Week’s New Ajax Homepage today. Some I’d seen before, several were new to me. All of them made me yawn…

We don’t need more homepages or portals and ways to aggregate stuff that we each can point at ourselves. There are plenty of options for that and most are woefully inadequate.

An article today in the BBC News pointed out a Pew Internet study which shows, “The internet has played an important role in the life decisions of 60 million Americans, research shows.

Whether it be career advice, helping people through an illness or finding a new house, 45% of Americans turn to the web for help, a survey by US-based Pew Internet think-tank has found.”

People are on the hunt. They want information. They want expertise. They need filtering by experts and their peers. They can’t invest most of their attention and time trying to find it.

There’s got to be a better way.

I had a conversation with Marc Canter at Web 2.0 about his digital lifestyle aggregator concept — and my interest in having the ability to aggregate *everything* of interest and be able to publish everything back out to an audience or affinity group vs. just having it for my eyeballs only. Today’s viewing of all of these competing Ajax offerings made me realize all the more that the need is here now and that Marc’s DLA concept — or any current methods — wouldn’t meet it.

What is needed is a content aggregation, participation and publishing (CAPP) model for the Web that goes beyond blogging and the “everyone is an editor and publisher” way of doing things. It’s just too damn hard to keep track of what everyone is blogging about as well as all the disparate conversations that occur (though conversation tracking sites like tech.memeorandum and Topix help). It’s too hard to uncover the value. It’s too time consuming to skim through my aggregated blogs or even to try to wade through aggregated, multi-blog conversations on the tracking sites.

What is needed is a model that will allow anyone who has the energy, interest and expertise to seize the model and focus it toward a niche, a market, an affinity group, a set of constituents, a group of customers, or wherever they opt to provide value…and then make it happen.

TOP 5 CAPP CAPABILITIES

1) Content (created by the ‘publisher’ & RSS aggregation of text, video, audio). This would include mechanisms to target, deliver and report on advertising (unfortunately, the world still requires us to receive value in exchange for effort so we can turn on the lights, eat, and provide for our old age…making advertising the key method of monetizing)

2) Social promotion of content (e.g., Digg)

3) Participatory capabilities (in-hub blogs/columns, Comments, discussions)

4) Profiles of participants (e.g., in-hub identity management)

5) A control model for the participants (e.g., AttentionTrust) that allows opt-in, acceptance, and possibly compensation for their participation.

This concept is no different than the niche, narrowcasting which has occurred in the magazine business and cable/satellite TV — but is much, much more powerful. It’s giving a targeted audience with what they want and need…and anticipating those wants and needs.

You may have heard about Chris Anderson‘s The Long Tail. He’s authored a book about it and it is close to debuting (his manuscript is apparently finished).  The Long Tail points the way to the fact that most everything has someone (or a group of someones) interested in it long after it has left the marketplace. The awareness level of the Tail amongst the mainstream will accelerate with the publishing of Chris’s book and the hunt will become more intense as smart people try to figure out how to leverage the Tail. If some company gets there with “the perfect Long Tail publishing model” first, they’ll clean up.

Selfishly I want this model for myself. I’d love nothing better than to start a niche publication that provides a hub for an affinity group, snag all the RSS feeds to start if off, invite in a core group of people that, in turn, would invite other smart people, and have the affinity group do the meaningful, value-based work of tracking down germane articles and feeds that the rest of the affinity group would find valuable (as well as participate in conversations).

Where’s Adobe and Quark? I would think that these two print-centric publishing companies would be considering this category instead of seemingly abdicating it to Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and, to a lesser consumer extent, Apple with .Mac.  Adobe has the enabling tools and the server-based offerings, but no way to deliver participatory, network accelerated value.

This concept goes beyond page layout, PDF creation, Flash manipulation, audio/video creation, or most other enabling tools that are “push” or “container-ish” in nature. Instead, a publishing-like model would be targeted at domain experts that could take the best-of-the-best in their own content, the content of others, focus and target it at a constituent base, invite participation from a targeted, invited audience, and build/publish a hub that moves-the-needle on knowledge and value.

If you had THE hub on <insert your market here> and you’d published a one-stop-shop for all links, all content, and had a participatory way for people to feed the hub, have conversations, and feel a part of the community, who wouldn’t go there?

Advertisers would too.

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