Despite my fear of giving away pertinent insight, this blog post was necessary to prevent by feeble brain from imploding. While discussing the explosion of social media and networking trends of Web 2.0 with a client today, I took pause to think about what Web 3.0 might look like. My vision might actually be Web 4.0 or 5.0, but what I see isn’t what my techno-geek friends probably anticipate.

Jeff Pulver’s group hug birthday photoHuman nature can be volatile, inconsistent and even frustrating to predict. Just ask anyone in the marketing or advertising business about it and they’ll roll their eyes. All the statistics in the world couldn’t have predicted people would flee the real world for their laptops and IM each other from across the Starbucks. Perhaps the only thing you can predict about human nature is that it will be volatile, inconsistent and frustrating.

When I see marketers blog about what truly engages and reaches people in a social media setting, the bottom line is normally a human connection. One person reaching out to another with like mind or common interest and sharing information: that’s networking. Not social networking, not online community networking, not Myspacey, Facebooky, Twittery non-celebrity fan club-ism, but real human interaction.

That’s why Web 3.0 (or some increment with an unnecessary decimal point and geek zero added – Does Bill Gates get residuals for the use of “point-oh”?) looks mighty glum to me.

I see the downside of the bell curve where people turn away from their LCD display and say, “I haven’t had a meal with another human being in six months.” They’ll call their worried mothers, knock on the neighbor’s door to see if they need anything from the corner store and carry on a 20 minute conversation with the check-out clerk.

We’re human beings, not machines. We need other human beings to prove this.

So it is my contention that the next big thing will be the site, company or brand that figures out how to take the online community offline and inject human interaction into the experience. No amount of Second Life enthusiasm, no degree of Facebook addiction and no delineation of Twitter feeds can make a person feel real.

For the record, I hope I can be the one to figure it out first. I don’t realistically think I’m quite that smart. But I sure am going to have fun trying.

What do you think Web 3.0 will look like? Do you think the pendulum of online networking fascination one day swing the other way?

PHOTO: “DSC_0393″ from Jeff Pulver’s Flickr.

[tags]social media, social networking, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web 4.0, Web 5.0, networking, human nature, sociology, psychology, human behavior, future[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Bloumeister

    Let’s face it, networking accounts come and go. Your online contacts and friends change with time, because it is sometimes a fleeting game that people enjoy: not everyone is a MySpace or Facebook addict. Still, some true friendship can and will be forged online: it was become quite easy to ‘meet’ people with similar situations and interests, and some fruitful relationships can be born out of chatting and networking.

    I’ve been in the same relationship for over 19 years; my circle of friends goes back 25 years, and I’ve had the same parents all my life (duh). If I appreciate a certain individual, it makes no difference to me if they live in another country (one of my best friend lives 2000km away from me), or if they’re bytes and html links. I don’t see why I would consider online buddies any different, or dump them just because I need “the human touch”.

    I don’t think the next big thing will be an integration of virtual and human interaction. Time and physical restraints, that’s why. If it is, it better be more than a some big speed dating network. Anyways, it’s been proven that when there’s a will, there’s a way, and people who want to meet WILL, no matter how far away.

    Food for thought, though. Keep up the great work.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan…

    My physical locale will never be as appealing, friends wise, as my online connections. I love taking my friends to ground, meaning I love meeting them in human flesh space, but I find them and get to know them online. Why? Because people in my town aren’t interested in what I’m interested in, for the most part.

    So, I think these things will come and go, but I think the people will get together on various networks, and leave and join them at will.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Blou — Thanks for the response. Good points, of course. I, too, think friendships are friendships, regardless of the means of connection. I just think we all need a little human connection from time-to-time.

    Chris — Honored you would stop in. I can appreciate the need for online connection to circumvent local interest. Sometimes I feel like the only (even though there are at least 5-10 others) Louisvillian with any interest in the online world and connections there. And I, too, like to take friends to ground. Hope we can connect soon. I’m sure we’ll both be at a convention in the near future. Thanks again for visiting.

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  • Katarina Tikka

    I love going back to read older posts about social media and online strategy. I love how you actually predicted what is happening right now. Social media is being used more and more to make real life connections. In 2007 it wasn’t all that obvious that mobile phones would be part of the answer to your question.

    Great read.