Sometimes a simple illustration can trigger a lot of thought. When I first saw the illustration below I was immediately struck although not really sure why.
In the weeks after that first impression I actually found myself using this illustration to explain complex topics and therewith simplify discussions I had with several people.
First of all, I think this illustration does a great job of showing the evolution that the Web has gone through. In the first phase of the web all activities are centered around broadcasting information. Companies and people create websites and use them to broadcast their messages into the world. This is the era of the webmaster, and site navigation based on the organizational structure. Then came the transactional web. Editorial & marketing teams took over, the navigational structure was mostly based on the products and services an organization offered, and the main objective was moving actual business online. We are currently in the personal phase of the web, which is characterized by three key elements:Relevant (e.g. personalized messages and offerings), Interactive (e.g. the read-write web, User generated content) and Social (e.g. online networks, references and reviews).
Now, the red line in the illustration marks an important crossover (note that I’ve added the red line and the Science and Arts labels myself). On the left side of the red line are the phases we have already mastered. It has resulted in new job titles, services and organizations that focus on things like Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Web Analytics, Pay per Click Management et cetera. As we have mastered these phases we have created the science required for these phases and we know what to do (or who to hire) to do them right.
However, on the right side of the red line we are still discovering and learning. Success here is not based on science, it still is an Art:organizations follow their gut and try to innovate. Ok, I understand this is not 100% true. There are first examples of methodologies that will lay the groundworks for future science, but, even Analysts are confirming that the miss rate for this phase is still very high.
Valérie Léonard made a righteous statement in her last post: ORM goes beyond SEM. It certainly does, and for me this illustration also shows that. SEM is on the left side of the red line, ORM is on the right. Over time we will create new sciences for this new phase that the web is entering. For now: get yourself a good artist!
October 7, 2008 No Comments