FutureWeb: When will we be past significant customization?

Had yet *another* meeting today with a smart, accomplished marketing communications strategist wrestling with how to empower, enable and guide his client organizations toward understanding and embracing the new paradigm of Web 2.0, the participation culture and what Time magazine calls the Person of the Year (You).

The onrush of an internet connected world is doing far more than getting people to participate. It’s compressing cycles all over the place from scientific research and peer review to information delivery, communication and collaboration. Since anything on the ‘net is but a mouse click away, this connection is accelerating our ability to choose from an increasing number of alternatives and knowledge at our fingertips. I don’t care what business you’re in, if you don’t recognize that disruption is coming at you from a myriad of sources, you’re either asleep, not paying attention, or in a monastery.

The connected internet is fundamentally about technology enabling, so that’s the perspective I’ll come from in this post. During my discussions this morning, it was clear that this fellow’s clients cover the gamut of non-profits who — like those in education struggling for funding — find themselves relying upon donor’s and sponsors in order to carry out their mission.

Just like most under-funded small businesses, all of the open source, Web 2.0 and other information technology offerings are incredibly powerful but just out of reach for most of them. They’re a box of parts where what these non-profits and small businesses need is a finished automobile they can climb in and drive.

Too much customization is needed for software to meet the needs of everyone? I’d disagree with that notion. I see a whole lot of customization occurring with quasi-platform plays like Typepad, WordPress, social networking sites, and more.  I’m starting to see interesting drag-n-drop “information builders” emerging like YourMinis and even more basic news-centric portals like PageFlakes.

So here’s the question for those of you willing to comment: will Apple/Google; Laszlo; Adobe; Microsoft; or some other prescient and forward looking company build the Web application assembly tool for we normal humans to use? It’s pretty clear that we’ve GOT to evolve the software industry past buying or downloading (open source) software and then basically building the entire car from a box of parts.


  1. Brian Hayes on December 19, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    I think you’ve found the question and framed it well.

    Web2.0 becomes a widget web becomes a visual web becomes a video web, with most sites built with poor tools after too much hard work and too many long hours.

    I don’t see robust packages on the horizon.

  2. Dave Duarte on December 20, 2006 at 6:53 am

    Yes, eventually Google, Microsoft et al. will build that tool… but in the meantime, a small startup seems to have beaten them to it:

  3. Amy Lenzo on January 15, 2007 at 10:31 am

    I agree – someone HAS to build this assembly tool because otherwise the average person, or should I say no one but specialized programmers & those who can afford their rates, will be able to access the freedom and power of most Web 2.0 applications.

    This is my main complaint about open source content management systems (which by the way I support with idealistic fervor and believe to be paving the way to a new social utopia). They’re ‘free’, but it takes several thousand dollars to pay someone to install them.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.