A couple of weeks ago, a Financial Times article had a quote suggesting that "Social Shopping" is an example of the next evolution for the web - Social Networking with a purpose. Of course, the main premise of the article was to discuss the rationale behind the proliferation of Social Shopping websites.
With the huge numbers of people flocking to social networking sites, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Many people talk about using social networking sites as a way to keep up with friends they already have in real life. Others feel that making virtual friends through the web is meaningless. So it's no surprise that social networking with a purpose is the next evolution in the use of web2.0 features. It makes sense that people would want to connect with others through a shared interest. This interest makes the connection real even though the people connecting online may have never met. That's the real beauty of the web.
What bothered me is this. The person quoted went so far as to label this evolution as Web 3.0. Really? That seemed to be a bit of a stretch to me. As I see it, the web initially delivered information in a one way dialog. Web 2.0 enabled a two way dialog. People could interact with the content producers, as well as with each other. To me, Web 3.0 would need to enable a new dimension in interaction. While I think that social networking with a purpose is the next logical evolution, is it enough to warrent a new dimension in interaction? Doesn't everyone have a purpose when they interact? While websites like MySpace and Facebook may not be targeted, the people using them usually do have some sort of purpose in mind. No?
So then I began to ponder what the next dimension in online interaction would be. This is where I got stumped. Would it enable broader types of interactions and connections? The article spoke about how some of the social shopping sites are using consumer information as input to how they develop their brands. My take on this is that they are trying to foster a less tangible type of connection with their patrons, gleaning information from what they say and do without directly connecting with them. Good idea, but could get creapy if not handled well.
What I'm left with is that sites that are more specific, and encourage people to connect around a shared interest will likely do well. That makes sense.
Web 3.0? We all clearly need to think more about that one.