LET'S SHOP TOGETHER
A starting point to see what this MAY look like eventually is Cribcandy.com, a "social", visual, browser for stuff on the web. It's based on the very visual, "social shopping" company Wists' tagging technology, which potentially is almost as easy to understand at first blush for mainstream audiences as Flickr was for photos.
If you're browsing on the web and see a coffee table you like, save it as a public/private visual bookmark on Wists. Specifically, Wist scans the page you're "wisting" for all the images and asks which one you want to tag. Select it, and it's visually bookmarked. You can keep it private or decide to share it publicly. Put in a descriptor tag and you're done.
My wife and I spent almost an hour browsing through Cribcandy yesterday looking at home furnishings. Click on the "livingroom tag" and you get several pages of pictures livingroom furnishings other people thought were cool. And in a lot more cases than you'd expect, they were.
And it's microchunked down to say, "side-tables", which is currently a major sub-quest for my wife (not necessarily the one pictured here...but couldn't you just SEE this in the hallways at Yahoo!, Google or eBay?).
We're potentially on our way to spending a chunk of change on a variety of ecommerce sites that we'd never heard of and probably wouldn't have found on our own, but for the efforts of like-minded potential shoppers. That's "peer shopping", in my book and very Web 2.0.
And not once during the whole hour did she even know she was using a bleeding edge tagging service, nor did she bleedin' care. And she definitely didn't have to take a "Dummies" course in tagging, which remains hard for the mainstream in general.
From her perspective it was like sharing torn off catalog pages with a whole bunch of people. All of us know the experience of tearing off catalog pages and putting it in a folder for an upcoming holiday and/or event. Cribcandy is a way to do just that with online catalog and shopping sites. And it's a great start.
The offline catalog industry is an $80 plus billion industry, just in the US alone. Imagine if in addition to mainstream users tagging products they like, EVERY item in all those off-line catalogs was available in microchunk form on the web, put out there for various prices by manufacturers and vendors with the same ferocity and tenacity as advertisers large and small today put out adwords on Google and its peers...Catalogs 2.0!
Of course a lot of details need to be worked out and a fair amount of technology and infrastructure needs to be deployed. But BE SURE to follow the four-step program VC Fred Wilson recommends for content (microchunk it, free it, syndicate it and monetize it).
Certainly initiatives like the rumored Google Base are potentially steps in this direction (see earlier post). But it's not out of the bounds of possibility. It's all about empowering commerce at the edges (aka peers), with consumers, manufacturers and vendors, and letting the commerce happen.
And there's no reason so called "Web 1.0" ecommerce leaders like eBay and Amazon couldn't play. (Amazon after all came up with Amazon Mechanical Turk for microchunking work just last week).
Now that would be something...ecommerce 2.0, available on web enabled devices everywhere.