We can draw a line that goes from Ephemeral to Persistent, and in this line we can place the internet services according to what they give users.
- Ephemeral platforms favor instant nuggets of information, like News. Facebook is the best example. Slack, Skype, Gmail, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin too. The main characteristics of these platforms are: providing exclusive, recent data; being faster; favouring the subjective; wanting as many opinions as possible; acting as the rule maker for filtering and sorting information.
- Persistent platforms favor Knowledge. Wikipedia is a great example. Google Drive is another. Their main characteristics are: providing consensual information; keeping all data accessible, including past edits; providing structured exploration through content taxonomies; they are open; the rules of what happens to data are clear;
Most online businesses lie near the most natural fit of the product, and stay there. Regrettably, most products that achieved scale are Ephemeral by nature, like communications. So we are stuck with a toilet paper internet.
My theory is that platforms should and will bet on the Persistent and the interplay between it and the Ephemeral. An over abundance of news just confuses people, we need some to sediment knowledge from this big flow of information. At the same time, knowledge can be enriched with the data and commentary that improves it. Better yet, knowledge can be created from lots of ephemeral data.
I want to see a dashboard of interesting data from my connections on twitter, gmail, facebook. I want to have a better visualisation of edits and talk on wikipedia pages! And more.