Towards Middle Space

There are a number of conversations ongoing of late about what comes after Web 2.0. Some like Oliver Reichenstein are using data visualization to try and connect the dots. The recently released Web Trend Map 2007 v2.0 is used by his strategic design agency iA in Tokyo to try and make sense of it all. Last weeks building platforms panel at Fortune iMeme joined the Facebook as a platform conversation which has been doing the rounds.

As someone who is not a fan of versioning I prefer to think about what is happening in terms of waves. The first wave was a top-down driven revolution, the second wave is a bottom-up driven counter-revolution and the third wave will be about where the two intersect and ultimately evolve – middle space. During the first and second waves our digital identity and attention identity were separable. In the third wave the two will become one with significant social, economic and political consequences.

A number of projects are attempting to build services to ride the third wave. OpenID, Particls and Project VRM are but three examples which need to be considered alongside the likes of platform contenders Facebook, Google and Linden Lab. Whereas RSS provides content, microformats provide context, Virtual Worlds provide presence – both in terms of location and self. As our understanding and interpretation of gestures improve Virtual Worlds will play an important part in providing a sandbox to enable the mind shift required in third wave thinking from linear to non-linear.

With more people experiencing Virtual Worlds first hand many are surprised to learn just how long they have actually been around. Thankfully an initiative by Bruce Damer called Virtual Worlds Timeline is at hand to help fill in the gaps. For those interested audio and accompanying slides of a March 26th 2007 presentation on the origins and evolution of Social Virtual Worlds by Bruce is available here. There are a number of gems within the presentation for those who take the time to listen to it. More to follow …