The mobile web is going to look nothing like the web that we use today. I mean, sure, there’ll still be “mobile sites” for users who are searching unfamiliar information, but the bulk of the mobile web will be community based.
Social media changed the web by letting users go beyond consuming content. It let them produce it, interact with it, and build communities around it. As those users go mobile, those communities are going to evolve. They’re going to become more tangible, and transcend cyber-space into the real world.
We’re going to take our communities with us everywhere we go. Our actual location will define who we interact with and the content we consume.
Today, online communities bring together people from around the world, but by shackling them to a single physical space. To a degree, users have to leave their body to enter their communities. The mobile web, however, will let them take their communities with them — or, rather, remain active within those communities everywhere they go.
Communities that are now restricted within a domain (that is, to a URL) will be freed through apps that users install on their devices. Domains, in fact, will continue to be relevant only insofar as their needed to query a database and pull content. (Semantic domain names won’t matter as much they do now).
A domain will be needed only to host content, but that content won’t cosumed it through a browser. Rather, it will be pulled by an app on my device. And the array of apps on our devices will reflect are personalities by reflecting our community memberships.
Communities such as Akoha and Ovi are already moving in this direction. A reality-based game, Akoha’s site is only used to organize plays. Once the Akoha iPhone app makes the game mobile, its user-interface will probably not extend beyond a feed that’s pulled in from their database through a mobile app.
Similary, Ovi allows users upload (geo tagged) content directly from their mobile, and can access maps, manage their calendar, and download music and games. Beyond registering for the services, however, there’s little incentive to actually log into the site itself.
Location Based Services
A significant part of the mobile web will be Location Based Services (LBS). But it will be so much more than geo-targeted ads and text messages. It will be about sharing our experiences with physical spaces with one another.
In fact, community experiences will likely be largely defined by how they integrate with LBS technology. Because we’ll all be connected all the time, community interactions won’t be based on “status,” but on location. We’ll find and interact with other community members who are in close proximity to us, because they’re in close proximity to us.
We’ll also consume content more because it’s relevant to where we are or the space that we’re in, and less because it’s recent or popular. And as a result, we’ll consume more than just the content. We’ll consumer our physical environment.
A Tribal Web
Communities were once small, and we existed entirely within them. But societies grew, and anonynimity became the rule rather than the exception. Often, people weren’t aware that certain communities existed, never mind how find them.
The social web changed all that. It made it possible for people to transcend a physical divide and come together to form a community. What it didn’t do, was afford them the physical experience of community participation.
The mobile web is going to close much of that gap. It will enable to transcend the physical divide when forming and joining communities, but still have some physical experience by including our physical environment in our community interactions.
In fact, Web 3.0 may not be the semantic web, but the mobile one.