Some more thinking about Fred Wilson's musings that he's Bored with Web 2.0. While I certainly get excited when I find a new tool or site that becomes part of my web ecosystem, there's sadly a glut of tools that really have no role in making my life any better. There's a lot of me-too lately, and not a lot of actual problem solving. I can think of at least five problems that haven't been solved yet for me on the web. Figure out a way to do so, and you'll have me not only as a loyal customer but a loyal evangelist.
(To the best of my knowledge these don't exist, or at least haven't launched in any real way yet. If you know of a team working on them, please let me know.)
1. Human Blog Translation Network
We're all aware of the echo chamber effect in the blogosphere, especially in tech. A lot of reasons why, though I think some of that has to do with the fact that most of us only read and write our blogs in English. I would love to have my blog posts translated by native speakers into Spanish, Norwegian, Mandarin and Japanese, to name a few. The machine translation tools (Babelfish, Google Translate, Wordpress Global Translator) can't really convey the tone and meaning behind our words that make up our voices. But multi-lingual people can.
I'd like to see a network of distributed human translators who get paid per post that they translate. I could elect to sign up for a 3-language monthly package that gave me say, 25 posts per month translated and shared in those languages. Blog publishers looking to extend their reach and engage a more global audience would pay for the level of reach they desire. Blog readers could use the service to freely search the translated content from blogs around the world, giving us a glimpse into non-English discussions we might have otherwise missed.
2. "Big Red Button" - disaster planning and action
Let's face it, some of us are just not that prepared when disaster strikes. We all know we should be, but sometimes we just don't even know what that would entail. The government's made a decent effort with its ready.gov site, but it still reads like a lenghty brochure. I want a Web 2.0 service where I can set up a series of "Big Red Buttons," each tailored to possible disaster scenarios I might face. Some might be small, like losing my wallet, where one click (or encoded SMS) would set of a pre-selected chain of events that cancel my credit and bank cards, request a new driver's license, etc. Others might be much larger, like notifying family and friends after a massive earthquake or medical evacuation in a foreign country. This would need to be a service I trust implicitly and hopefully use sparingly.
3. Painless Photo Management
It still baffles me that with how pervasive digital camera usage is today, we still haven't found the killer app in photo management. Seriously, it's a mess out there. I love Flickr, it's social photography. But what I'm missing is one ubiquitous depository of photos that is permanent, private and owned entirely by me. There's really no reason I have to back up my photos from my Mac to my external hard drive every week.
There's been an endless stream of photo sharing sites (Snapfish,
ImageStation , Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, Picasa, Picturetrail, Photobucket) but none has reached the point of actually making photo management painless. After every large group event with friends or family (weddings, reunions, trips, etc.), I inevtiably receive three or four different 'albums' in my email a few days later. I end up looking at the photos, and maybe downloading a few of the lower resolution prints if I have time. Then I pretty much never see those photos again mostly because I can't stand most of those commercial print sites.
Really, I think what I want is already there in terms of the site itself, but what's missing is the interaction between this gaggle of sites. There needs to be some open, smart sharing between sites, rather than the walled garden approach at the mainstream sites. So if I want Picasa to be my home online for photos, my Aunt in Connecticut should be able to publish them whichever site she chooses, while it simultaneously shares them with the site I've chosen to use. And all the photos end up in my vault, backed up and mine for life. And yes, I would pay for this too.
4. Open Platform for our Data Breadcrumbs
There's been a good deal of talk around the growing data breadcrumbs that we're leaving around the web. This digital exhaust, as Josh Kopelman calls it, is becoming cheaper to store, share and mine for the patterns that make up what we do both on and offline. As the tools and companies grow to harness all of the little pieces of our web tracks, there's in effect a discussion that occurs between all those data sources. What I want to see is a service that allows us to be a part of that discussion about, well, ourselves.
If I'm going to accept the idea that I have to live with a certain level of advertising on the web, I at least want it to be relevant to me. I'd like to know what exactly the picture of me is that is told from my data droppings. Who better to ask about what is accurate about me than me?
The service itself might not be from an upstart, and could more likely be pulled off by Google. I've already handed over a great deal of trust to Google with my personal information, conversations and habits. I think it would be reasonable to ask that I can be an active partner in making sure that information is reliable.
This one grew out of a post by Duncan Riley about Techmeme and the Noise Problem, where the discussion centered around finding the smaller, less discovered tech stories. I'm actually intrigued by Duncan's new QMeme over at The Inquisitr, which effectively does just that with the topics people are discussing over at the site.
What I'd really like to see is a more language-intelligent, broad meme that tracks social converstaions across many platforms - Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Disqus, Blogs, News sites - and pulls the social issues that are generating a lot of heat. So for example, after the recent California ruling allowing same-sex marriage, I would expect to see this issue reaching the SocialMeme for a little while. We're starting to see this idea implemented in smaller communities, like QMeme is for the web set. There's value in knowing what makes a GenYMeme or a EducatorMeme, if you're part of those communities or are interested in what they are discussing. And perhaps we have a general SocialMeme that spans all sub-groupings, which is where political and value issues would probably dominate. Who knows? It would certainly be interesting to see.