Word to Remember: Infomediary

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“Formed from a combination of the words information and intermediary, an infomediary is a Web site that gathers and organizes large amounts of data and acts as an intermediary between those who want the information and those who supply the information.

There are two types of infomediaries. Some infomediaries, such as Autobytel.com and BizRate.com, offer consumers a place to gather information about specific products and companies before they make purchasing decisions. The infomediary is a neutral entity, a third-party provider of unbiased information; it does not promote or try to sell specific products in preference over other products. It does not act on behalf of any vendors. The second type of infomediary, and one that is not necessarily Web-based, is one that provides vendors with consumer information that will help the vendor develop and market products. The infomediary collects the personal information from the buyers and markets that data to businesses. The advantage of this approach is that consumer privacy is protected and some infomediaries even offer consumers a percentage of the brokerage deals.

The term infomediary was coined by John Hagel in his 1996 article entitled “The Coming Battle for Customer Information” in the Harvard Business Review.” via

Web2.0 today – Tim Berners-Lee’s Web3.0 tomorrow – Seth Godin’s Web4.0 is what we are all thinking about

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Web3.0 – Tim Berners-Lee, “I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.” via.

Now I don’t usually copy large parts of other peoples writing just to post it on my blog, but Seth Godin described his vision of Web4.0 and I have to say – man are we on the same page. Seth, you described the dreams many of us have about how the Web and technology should be used in our lives. For the benefit of my readers, and more importantly, to keep your words easily accessible for my future reading, Seth’s thoughts are below:

“Some deliberately provocative examples:

I’m typing an email to someone, and we’re brainstorming about doing a business development deal with Apple. A little window pops up and lets me know that David over in our Tucscon office is already having a similar conversation with Apple and perhaps we should coordinate.

I’m booked on a flight from Toledo to Seattle. It’s cancelled. My phone knows that I’m on the flight, knows that it’s cancelled and knows what flights I should consider instead. It uses semantic data but it also has permission to interrupt me and tell me about it. Much more important, it knows what my colleagues are doing in response to this event and tells me. ‘Follow me’ gets a lot easier.

Google watches what I search. It watches what other people like me search. Every day, it shows me things I ought to be searching for that I’m not. And it introduces me to people who are searching for what I’m searching for.

As a project manager, my computer knows my flow chart and dependencies for what we’re working on. And so does the computer of every person on the project, inside my team and out. As soon as something goes wrong (or right) the entire chart updates.

I’m late for a dinner. My GPS phone knows this (because it has my calendar, my location, and the traffic status). So, it tells me, and then it alerts the people who are waiting for me.

I visit a blog for the first time. My browser knows what sort of stories I am interested in and shows me highlights of the new blog based on that history.

I can invest in stocks as part of a team, a team that gains strength as it grows in size.

Here’s Rikard’s riff on how the iPhone could be more like Web4.

I’m about to buy something from a vendor (in a store with a smart card or online). At the last minute, Web4 jumps in and asks if I want it cheaper, or if I want it from a vendor with a better reputation. Not based on some gamed system, but based on what a small trusted circle believes.

My PDA knows I’m going to a convention. Based on my email logs, it recommends who I ought to see while I’m there–because my friends have opted in to our network and we’re in sync.

I can fly to the CES for half price, because Web4 finds enough of us that we can charter a flight.

I don’t have to wait for Rickie Lee Jones to come to town. Sonos knows who the Rickie Lee fans are, and makes it easy for us to get together and initiate a concert… we book her, no scalpers necessary.

I don’t get company spam any more (“fill out your TPS reports”) because whenever anyone in my group of extended colleagues highlights a piece of corporate spam, it’s gone for all of us. But wait, it’s also smart enough that when a recipient highlights a mail as worth reading, it goes to the top of my queue. If, over time, the system senses (from how long I read the mail, or that I delete it, or that I don’t take action) that the guy’s recommendations are lame, he loses cred.

Sure, it sounds a bit like LinkedIn. But it’s not. LinkedIn tends to make networks that are sprawling and weak. Web4 is about smaller, far more intense connections with trusted colleagues and their activities. It’s a tribe.

You don’t have to join a tribe. But if you did, would you be more successful?

Unlike Web 3, we don’t need every single page in the world to be ‘compliant.’ What we need is:

* an email client that is smart about what I’m doing and what my opted in colleagues are doing. Once that gains traction, plenty of vendors will work to integrate with it.
* a cell phone and cell phone provider that is not just a phone.
* a word processor that knows about everything I’ve written and what’s on the web that’s related to what I’m writing now.
* moves by Google and Yahoo and others to make it easy for us to become non-anonymous, all the time, everywhere we go.

This stuff creeps some people out. The thing is, privacy is an illusion. You think you have privacy, but the video surveillance firms and your credit card company disagree. If we’re already on camera, we might as well get some benefits from it. If we choose.

I think it’s fascinating that Web4 is coming from the edges (we see all sorts of tribal activities popping up in blogs, communities, rankings, Digg, etc.) as opposed to from the center. Web 2.0 happened in largely the same way. Even online, big organizations seem to have the most trouble innovating in ways that change the game.”

The web has been built around a market economy, and requires it because people require it to live.

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“The web has been built around a market economy, and requires it because people require it to live.” – comment via David Mackey

Quality information and education. Entertainment and inspiration. Economic gain and social networking.

These all exist on the web, this is the way of the world. People will choose what they want, and I believe those of us promoting quality information and products have nothing to worry about.

“If someone comes up with something better than AdSense and kills it, the world will be a better place.” – Matt Cutts

This blog has moved to its new permanent home at http://nomadishere.com.

Nick Wilson of Performancing quoted Google’s spam warrior Matt Cutts in October 2005 from the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. The statement couldn’t ring truer still today.

“There’s a ton of room left for experimentation,” he said. “If someone comes up with something better than AdSense and kills it, the world will be a better place.”

There is nothing happening on the Web today that provides publishers, advertisers and users with a relevant, targeted platform to interact and easily communicate with each other (other than blog networks, tools and tagging networks like Del.icio.us of course ;)). Wandering shopping malls hoping to find what you’re looking for is fast becoming a fun “pre-web” activity, and has not been the primary way consumers shop for quite some time. “Going out” or having “face-to-face meetings” has also not been the only way people communicate or collaborate for years.

Today we look for what we want and we can’t stand clutter. If we want information we don’t want to see products, and we’d rather hear someone we respect recommend a product rather than be bombarded by overly-aggressive ads. If we want a product we’ll either go looking for it, to learn about or buy it – or we’ll go to favorite blogger on the topic and see if he has anything to say about it. Even Time magazine gets it with the person of year for 2006 being “YOU” – the personalized information retrieval and boundary-less instantaneous-and-ongoing-conversation era.

So advertisers want to join the conversations. People talk about products, services, businesses, people, places, things… and they’ll do it if you pay them and they’ll do it if you won’t. Good people will always talk honestly – its integrity and its nothing new – and good people will let their audience know if they are being paid to talk.

We are getting closer to an time not of *information cluttered with ads* but *information we can trust* (because people like us will create and spread it).

Why is the Web2.0 Population So Mean?

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I can get just as snarky, pissed and judgmental as the next Digg, Slashdot or Wikipedia user… but I always try to keep my cool and treat others with R E S P E C T. Its just something I think is important. Apparently I am not the only one wondering whats going on.

“The real shame, though, is that the knee jerk “everyone else is an idiot” tenor is poisoning the potential the Internet once had. People used to dream of a global village, where maybe we can work out our differences, where direct communication might make us realize that we have a lot in common after all, no matter where we live or what our beliefs.

But instead of finding common ground, we’re finding new ways to spit on the other guy, to push them away. The Internet is making it easier to attack, not to embrace.

Maybe as the Internet becomes as predominant as air, somebody will realize that online behavior isn’t just an afterthought. Maybe, along with HTML and how to gauge a Web site’s credibility, schools and colleges will one day realize that there’s something else to teach about the Internet: Civility 101.”

(thanks David Pogue of The New York Times)