The Constant Observer Picks: WebSites to Watch Out for in 2008

Posted by Rahul Sethi on 7:54 PM

We come to the end of 2007, well almost, having covered many of the International stories of the dot com World. For many in the dot com World, the year was dominated by mostly one story – the huge amount that Microsoft paid for a miniscule stake in Facebook. At The Constant Observer, we covered it extensively as well. We dealt with why Microsoft may have paid such a sum and also how Facebook is trying to be worth its while. There were many stores like the Facebook Beacon story (where a girl got to know that her boyfriend had purchased an engagement ring from before he even proposed – through Facebook!), which we stayed away from simply because they probably aren’t as relevant for our Constant Observers. That’s another thing we try really hard to do – make stories relevant to you, and we will strive to better that in 2008!




Well Facebook is not the only website to look out for internationally in 2008 – there are a host of them. Here they are (and also why they deserve to be looked at!):


1)    Facebook: Wrote about this above but the most exciting thing happening at Facebook is Social Ads. Placing ads in a social context, where people get associated with products. Also ads are finding their way into people’s ‘NewsFeeds’ – that’s another way of making brands ‘social’. This makes their purchase about 3 – 5 times more likely according to a study by Wharton Business School.



2) – A place to “buy and sell all things handmade”. Amazon revolutionized online commerce and ebay revolutionized 2nd hand e – commerce, Etsy hopes to tap into  the trend of buying and selling handicrafts. This can have huge impact on the Indian Cottage Industries as well, expect a lot of Indian Internet Brokers in this space who will try and make a quick buck. Also expect a few “do gooders” who will try and give our cottage industry their due. It’s ironic that there is a mass medium for products that are supposed to be ‘niche’. That could be the only shortfall.



3)    MicroBlogging Websites Pownce and Twitter – The idea is this: text large groups simultaneously. Its similar to the “status update” on Facebook, only on a larger platform. For Twitter atleast, the messages are limited to just 140 characters and thus it is labeled as “micro”blogging. Pownce too has a message limit. Messages can be sent from phones, the Internet or IM’s. Expect a lot of conversations to happen in this space.



4) – Youtube is now a place for a lot of porn, spoofs, professional marketing videos etc. hopes to recreate YouTube from its roots and in a sense recapture the sense of spirit of what YouTube originally was. It is for people who want to put video diaries on the Internet. Hopefully Seesmic will become the home for a generation of opinionated, thrill and attention seeking web surfers. P.S. We have such a guy at WAT – Aamer, our WATShow host would love Seesmic. The challenge: How to stop it from going the YouTube way?



5) – A site for frequent travelers – the site tracks where friends and colleagues are and enables them to meet up at unexpected places. The trend I see is micro social networking. Watch out for a lot of micro social networks.



6)    Instructables – Another Micro social network which helps innovators and individuals can "share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others." Essentially, Instructables offers a forum where users can sign up for free and post instructions using words and pictures to describe the creation of just about anything. Instructable subjects range from art to cooking to technology to the well-named category "not liable." Users can post comments or opinions regarding different Instructables, which creates a forum for discourse and creativity amongst individuals interested in particular how-to projects.



7)    Google Knol – A Wikipedia copy – the only difference is that content is created by “experts” in a subject. Will be monetized. Not a brilliant idea but  has the backing of Google so it has to be put on this list!



8) – This wins my vote for ‘Most Useful’ – you can back up 2 GB worth of data for free. For unlimited amounts, the charge is $5 per month,  which is pretty steep for us Indians – but 2 GB free for now is good. Apple has it’s iDisk which does something similar but this takes the idea to all Internet users.



9) – It has opened up to API’s, its going the Facebook way. There are a few changes, more security (well a little more). It’s trademark simplicity remains. The challenge will be to integrate this simplicity with API’s. I think Orkut will succeed in doing so. India’s Youth Icon and a major hit in the Less Developed World – expect a lot from Orkut.



10) LinkedIn – Not an extremely new social network, but again a micro social network which has succeeded at maintaining quality. My pick for ‘most useful Social Network’.


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