Proliferate – Aggregate – Integrate

It has been a fun and amazing few years participating in the web2.0/social phase of technology and web evolution. When I look at the various phases of the web I think of 3 overlapping stages – Proliferation, Aggregation & Integration. I don’t yet have an opinion on which is most important, but I know they all play a roll in development (and maybe there is a fourth stage – transition – which in some ways we are in today). So lets look at each stage.

Proliferation – this is the stage last year where every day there was a new web2.0 something (tool, widget, feature, category, company, fund, etc) being launched and announced. This is an exciting stage focused on creating what can be and a stage filled with Betas. Smart people creating new technologies – demonstrating the power of new technology. Think about all the social share widgets that were created over the past few years, all of the video technologies coming out in recent months and years and all the advertising solutions popping up still today. It has been awesome to see the power of the social web and all the different angles and approaches. Proliferation is about possibility, about choice and about experimentation.

Aggregation – this is the stage that has emerged more recently in my mind. All the companies that look at the sea of technologies created in the last stage and find ways to aggregate the technologies, tools, categories. To me this is one of the common roles of the more valuable portals or ‘destination’ sites. This is also the stage where more emphasis is placed on making users lives easier by making the technology easier to manage. I look at the companies that have created the RSS readers and lifestreaming sites. Great solution to a simple frustration – too much to read/follow and not enough time to hunt it all down. Aggregation is about simplification, about ease and about the user.

Integration – This is the stage that I see as most challenging in many respects. This is about making the technologies (and companies) work together. To me, this is the ultimate stage and in many cases the holy grail – in promise. It is also very hard to pull off. I think this is because by the time many companies attempt this, users have already decided on the platforms of their choice and/or it is difficult get all technologies integrated into one platform (based on the volume of proliferation, challenges of true collaboration and the data portability issues, among many others). I think that this is right where we are today. One company I’ve been watching and experimenting with is Fuser – (more on that when I start covering companies more). Another element of integration is less about the technology and more about the level of adoption. This is where you begin to see things that as recent as 12 months were considered cutting edge now in the mainstream. Social share widgets are now on about every site and my non-technical friends have LinkedIn profiles. Integration is about collaboration, about utility and about mass adoption.

As I look at each new technology (feature set, application, company, category, etc) I tend to think in these terms. For me it is a helpful way to gauge where things are and more importantly to gauge business opportunity. The business model, positioning and go to market strategy are all very dependent on which stage you are in. I also look at it to evaluate the macro trends to help assess where we are as an industry. In my mind, web2.0 and social (generally speaking) are in the latter stages. I’m getting ready for the next wave of meaningful and exciting new technologies and trends to begin to proliferate – I’m betting on a more mobile, global and ‘intelligent’ set of technologies. So grab your GSM phone, get your passport ready and start reading between the lines – it’s going to be fun!

3 Responses to “Proliferate – Aggregate – Integrate”
  1. Emily says:

    Thanks so much for the great thoughts on the categories within Web 2.0. I specifically like how you distinguish between aggregation and integration. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on moving from aggregation to integration in Web 2.0, and how you think Fuser’s doing in the space.

  2. gammill says:

    I really like what Fuser is doing, particularly the Social App (facebook). I haven’t added it yet but will check it out shortly (but this is clearly one layer of integration). I tried to convince one of my last companies to head in the direction of Fuser, particularly the Social App space, so I’m a big supporter of the vision.

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  1. […] 4, 2009 · No Comments I’ve been revisiting an older post – Proliferation. Aggregation. Integration –  given the current state of the start-up environment and my informal involvement in a few sharp […]

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