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OPLIN 4Cast #275: Websites and communities

Posted in 4cast

Since about the turn of the century, when the World Wide Web became a regular part of most people’s lives, the conventional wisdom has been that it was important for every organization, whether a business or a library, to put effort into an attractive, well-built website. Your website is your initial point of contact with online users (we’ve been told) and can be a community space, much like your library building. Some libraries have even managed their website as they would manage a community branch library. Now, however, some people are beginning to question this conventional wisdom. While it’s still very important to have an effective website – so people can find your hours, contact info, etc. – perhaps it would be wise to take some of the effort you put into trying to build communities on your website and instead spend more time engaging with people in communities that already exist on the Internet.

  • Google+ and the post-Web Google (ChromeBytes)  “I’ve noticed an increasing number of ads that no longer send people to the company’s sites. Instead, the ads only include a link to the official Facebook page. Sites suddenly look outdated, no longer include the latest information and people stop visiting them. There are still people that visit those outdated sites and many are coming from search engines like Google.”
  • No corporate website? You don’t need one. Welcome to the post-Web era. (David Strom’s Web Informant)  “My wife is an interior designer and supervises a small staff. Some of her business is coming from the communities that she participates in with and, two places that people go to look at pretty rooms and get ideas for their own decorating. By writing comments on these and other discussion forums, she is sharing her knowledge with the people most likely to hire her.”
  • Web officially dead: Sources (ClickZ/Andrew Edwards)  “One of the keynotes at eMetrics San Francisco was given by an engaging pair of digital media experts: Rand Schulman and Pelin Thorogood. Both of them have been at the cutting edge of web measurement and digital communications for years. And they contend we are now shattering the website-centric engagement paradigm in favor of a new world of ‘apps, sapps, and mapps.’”
  • The case against Google (Gizmodo/Mat Honan)  “And as it turns out, the open Web is kind of shitty real estate. Yes, the mansion itself is huge, but it’s not built to code and is in constant need of renovation to keep it from falling apart. Meanwhile, there are all these new homes going up in the same neighborhood. Nice places. Built from the ground up to perfectly fit their owners’ needs. Places that people can can get to from the Web, but aren’t really made of Web. Those are the kind of joints users want to go hang out in.”

Web prediction fact:
Looking at the future of the Web from a somewhat different angle, Pew Internet just released a survey on The Future of Apps and Web in which 59% of respondents agreed that “…the World Wide Web is stronger than ever,” but a significant 39% felt that “…apps will be seen as superior when compared with the open Web.”