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The Web Is Passing Most of You By… And You are Asleep

Usually when Dave McClure, Angel Investor and Hustler, has something to say on his blog, it is said with passion, drama, and a pinch of angst. But he’s almost always right and he makes you believe it in the end with unequivocal points and thoughts.

Because this post is so utterly important and I firmly believe it and expect you to as well, I’m going to channel Dave in this post. If you’re offended by language, leave now.

Why? Because mobile is the most important thing going on in technology today and you all are sitting around talking about social media. That’s right, I said it.

You are talking about social media and the Old Spice campaign like it’s something awesome. You’re circle-jerking each other by promoting products and bullshit companies simply because your friend you drank with at Affiliate Summit is doing the social media. You’re holding it wrong!

Do you even know what their business strategies are? Do they have anything worth talking about besides their marketing campaign. They are just using Twitter and you’re praising them for their ingenuity because “they get it”.

Fuck. That. Shit.

They have no fucking idea that most of their customers have a phone and a significant percentage of those phones are smart phones. They are completely ignoring mobile and you’re enabling that bullshit by focusing on their conversations and engagement.

Fuck. That. Shit.

Here’s the reality. The next generation of the web isn’t bullshit REAL-TIME anything. We’re overloaded on real-time. Real-time is what causes your friends to look at their phones the entire night while you’re trying to socialize with them. What you need to be thinking is the RIGHT-TIME web. What do you need to know right now based on your interests and focus? Can that be delivered via the most ubiquitous device on the planet – the cell phone?

Instead, you’re worried about making sure your colleagues have their dicks sucked by the public.

Fuck. That. Shit.

The order of operations for the next-gen web is a simple formula. The RIGHT data to the RIGHT person at the RIGHT time on the RIGHT device. Data first, Device LAST.

But you don’t get it. You’re talking about iPhone apps. You think the iPhone, the iPad, and the Android will save us. You don’t realize that mobile constitutes more than those devices. You’re running companies that specialize only on a single device and app. Yea, I’m looking at you, Gowalla.

You’ve missed the damn boat.

You think that the next-gen web is about conversations. Hello? That started in 2004 when Facebook was invented and became mainstream in 2006 when Facebook opened up and Twitter launched.

The train has left the station.

You think the next-gen web is all about the here and now. Do you not under stand the word “next”? You don’t think proactively. You repeat talking points.

Fuck. That. Shit.

We wouldn’t be having to get people together in a crisis and figure out how to mobilize relief workers if the “right-now” web was operational and people weren’t narrow-mindedly thinking about how an iPhone app can help Haitians when most of the population of Haiti can’t afford an iPhone, and probably have old Nokia T9 phones capable of only SMS, if they own a phone at all.

You’re not thinking about mobile. You’re not thinking about semantic data and how it operates in a mobile form-factor.

And because of that, you’re missing the boat.

Photo by ilamont.com

Published by

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

18 thoughts on “The Web Is Passing Most of You By… And You are Asleep”

  1. I’ve been in the tech business all my life. One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is that many people just don’t care about technology the way I do. They don’t care about web sites, they don’t care about smartphones, they don’t care about email.

    And as hard as it is to believe, many of these folks aren’t dumb. In fact, some of them are check-writing clients who write the paychecks for us geeks, developers, techies, and early adopters.

    I know it’s frustrating, but it’s true. Not everyone cares about technology, and not everyone cares abou the mobile revolution. They don’t care about the “semantic web”, federated systems, interactive vocabularies, and all the rest. Many are still trying to figure out what “web 2.0″ means. Throw “Government 3.0″ at them and they’ll think you’re just trying to sell them something.

    Yes, Facebook was launched sometime last century. But you know something? Not everyone is on Facebook, and many of those who are don’t like it. And it has nothing to do with whether they’re accessing it via a Mac, a smartphone, a netbook, or an iPad.

    So let’s not be so quick to demonize the poor unwashed masses, parents, employers, teachers, and executives whose lives are moving ahead quite nicely without having to worry about which version of the Android operating system they’re running.

    Dennis McDonald
    Alexandria Virginia
    See also: “Sometimes a phone is just a phone and a web site is just a web site…” http://www.ddmcd.com/sometimes.html

    1. If they aren’t on the web, why would they care about the next-gen web? They are clearly not the target of this article.

  2. So, what do I do about this? I put out content on my WordPress blogs, Twitter, and whatnot, most of which works fine on an iPhone or Droid but probably not so much an old-style BlackBerry. But how do I reach those people?

    Do I need a separate mobile theme? Several different mobile themes for all the various phones out there? To retheme my main site with mobile users in mind?

  3. I get where your coming from on this article and agree. I stay connected all day long – mobile when I am on the move – and I want to be able to access the services and websites that I access. If I can not access those services on the move then I am likely to move on from them.

    Would have loved to share this article with others via Twitter but the language is too rough. I stuck around to read it because I wasn interested in the subject.

    I think this would have been just as effective without the emphasis on the language.

  4. Aaron,
    Wow. Wish I had the cojones and expertise in your field to have written such a provocative post. I’m in total agreement with your premise. I’ve only really been involved full time with social media since late 2008. I’m more in the community management side than the technical wing. But there have been many times I’ve wanted to scream, “Are we in some high school from hell?” Where the popular and cool kids occupy a circle of Dante’s Inferno. I thought I could mine nuggets of info. Maybe if lucky, even join.

    But I soon recognized there were excellent, intelligent and innovative people, more than willing to help a girl out. Once they recognized I had good ideas that just needed a slight nudge or tweak, and wouldn’t take up a lot of their time, they were very willing to take me on at reasonable costs. Others just inspire me by their example.

    Unfortunately there are too many gurus that repeat the same pablum into a vicious circle full of bull shit and jargon. Again, I want to scream “The GuRu’s Have No Clothes!”

    I have followed you for a year or so. Your tweets make me laugh and your blog makes me think. I know you’re a hard ass who does not suffer fools well. You also don’t like to have your time wasted.;)

    I’ll get to my point, you SOB! ;) I kid. I’m a huge sports fan and have an idea I’m developing for sports franchises to use with their fan base, delivered to their smart phones during sporting events. I haven’t seen anything quite like it yet.

    Not asking for advice or feedback. Just wanted to thank you for the kick in the ass I needed to go forth and conquer.

    Thanks, Aaron

    BTW….see you’ve moved to Austin and are lovin those breakfast tacos. Used to live in San Antonio. That’s where you need to go for authentic kick ass food!

    1. Actually, a company that is using the right-time web really effectively (and I’m a big fan) is TripIt. I get flight delay and gate notifications delivered via text and it has helped me avert long waits at the airport several times.

  5. Great post, and I have to say I strongly agree, especially for local businesses.

    Local businesses have a massive opportunity to attract customers by taking advantage of the growth of the mobile market, and most of them aren’t even aware of it.

    How many smartphone owners do you think use Yelp/UrbanSpoon/Google Maps/CitySearch/etc to search for local restaurants, bars, cafes, and coffee shops? How many of those restaurants have websites with menus, store hours, and address info presented in a mobile friendly format (which directly affects my decision on where to go)?

    Come on guys! Literally, the only time I ever look at a restaurant’s website is when I’m trying to find a place to eat on my phone.

  6. “Because mobile is the most important thing going on in technology today”

    Mobile isn’t a noun. What’s the noun here? Mobile _what_? Mobile form-factor? What exactly does that mean? That some kind of information can be moved around easily? Didn’t we have that back as soon as we invented spoken language? You slam various shallow hip trends; fine. You don’t present your actual point.

  7. Right-time is the future. Right-time will unleash a wave of innovation. Right-time will neutralize advertising. Right-time is heavy, and its about to get a lot heavier.

  8. Smart phones are used to stay in real-time with social media. It may be a little about phones… but its more about social media. Even without a phone, you still check your facebook on your laptop. So in reality, IT IS all about social media.

    1. Forouzani – This is a common misperception. Facebook (among others) is focused on access for the 80% of the population that does not own a smartphone with FB Lite and FB Zero.

      It’s not about the phones; it’s about making the web mobile. 38% of all adults and 65% of 18-29 YOs access the web via mobile. Aaron’s right: the train has left the station and (as Mary Meeker put it), many are going to be left wondering “what just happened?”

  9. Aaron,

    What can I say. You’re right.

    I know I often talk about mobile as a next step tough process. But what sometimes gets lost when anyone writes about a single topic is that communication comes first. Or, as you said, the right data. How we get it to them comes after the fact.

    When I worked with one of the founders of POP supermarket retail, he would often say that every campaign ought to begin with billboard copy even if they never intended to buy outdoor. As a rule, this sucks. As a mode of thinking, it’s brilliant.

    If a concept can’t work on a billboard, it might not be a very good concept. If it can work on a billboard, moving it everywhere else is relatively easy.

    Good post,
    Rich

  10. Each computing cycle has been marked by visionaries who had enough foresight to create the future. Andy Grove, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; each one of them positioned themselves in the right place, right before the right time. They did not waste their time on RAM, mainframes, or virtual directories, etc.

    Entrepreneurs should be thinking about how to capitalize on the trend to mobile by creating services that are useful to consumers. This post hits the nail right on the head.

  11. Holy shit, that’s good insight! Building my second web app and we’re so focused on data it’s disgusting. The question of when has been brought of by multiple prospective customers. Deciding the “right time” for a large, not clearly defined customer base can be tough.

    Suggestions?

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