Wednesday, April 16th, 2008...12:21 am

All I Really Need To Know About The Web I Learned In College

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I still remember trying to connect my new Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop in my dorm room the first week of college (all the way back in ’99 – yikes) and having the nerdy dude on my floor help me figure out how to connect the Ethernet cable to the dongle to the computer. The first thing I probably did was login to AIM. I may very well have spent more time chatting online (and writing away messages) than any other single activity I did in the dorms for those first few months of school. Then one day somebody told me about Napster and I spent ALL of my time downloading music. Having a seemingly unlimited music selection to download and store on my computer blew my mind away.

Most people my age probably had a very similar experience to the one that I mention above. If we could turn back the clock to the fall of 99 and ask the younger, skinnier, less burnt out Littyhoops about his thoughts on these services I would have told you

1) I will never pay for music ever again because it’s already free
2) I’ll always use the internet to “chat” with friends and stay connected to them

My point here is that these trends were super obvious to me back then. Yet, eight years later we still have music executive at the major labels fighting to turn back the clock and fight a losing battle against technology with things like DRM, weird restrictions and inefficient lawsuits by the RIAA. Meanwhile, online chat has become both ubiquitous and a commodity (how AOL managed NOT to take over the digital world with this is beyond me) but it still doesn’t seem to get the love and attention it deserves.

I often say that I would dread being a senior media executive at a big media company. The industry continuously gets flipped upside down by new technology. It’s impossible to correctly predict trend after trend after trend. Yet that is exactly what media executives have to do, and when they predict wrong they are gone. Throw in the fact that experience and age often hurts them because it distances them from the oblivious college kid who naturally “gets it”. (Incidentally, this is exactly why I entered the digital world…I was too impatient to build a career and this was the one industry that allowed me to be an irreverent know it all from Day #1.)

So as I often try to make sense of the new services, trends and technology in the digital world I look to college kids to see what they are doing and how they are acting. Luckily, my younger sister Wartney is a recent college graduate and my digital guinea pig/focus group. In fact, as I think about it, the majority of conversations I had with her in 04-05 was why she spent so much time on this Facebook thing. Having her rack her brain trying to articulate the meaning of a “poke” must have been as annoying as when people ask me why I still cry when St. John’s losses!

So, you may be asking, what are the kids doing today. I would recommend you find out for yourself but here is my take on it…

Facebook is for fun. The emphasis is on social and not on networking. As you get older and less social Facebook is less fun. Zuckerberg and his posse better figure out how to make facebook a bit more useful to your real life, and get people to use it in that way, or it’s going to become a more glorified

The killer mobile app is chat. Blackberry messenger is amazing and addicting and releases awesome endorphins. The next generation of cell phones will all have some form of chat that will trump text messaging, twitter (will never get past the nerds) and even voice. People will be connected 24/7 to those that they want to be connected 24/7.

The web is becoming more mobile in general. Email and facebook and fantasy sports will take place over a smart phone and not on the computer. Kids don’t want to move past their pocket for this information.

Audio, video and design production costs are dropping faster than a Ching Ming Wang sinker. Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop and Garage Band are all intellectual video games and not complex software for youngsters. They teach themselves how to use this software and then actually use it. I’m not sure how this will transcend past the film and music business but it will.

The “people web” is a narcissistic joint. Everybody wants to be glamorous and they work meticulously to craft their ideal images on MySpace, Facebook, blogs, etc. This here blog is a perfect example. Ask anybody who knows what a mopey, sarcastic, dispassionate slug I really am. Littyhoops is way cooler than Brian Litvack! Everybody wants more friends, more followers, and more face time and the web satisfies this craving.

Nobody is scarred. Yes, sometime in the future somebody is going to find a photo, comment, video or email that you don’t want them to find. But this holds true for everybody. So it won’t be as big of a secret when you run for President and there are facebook pictures of you with a two foot bong because odds are that there are facebook pictures of them with that same binger!

E-commerce is the forgotton giant of the web. Kids spend online like it’s the most convenient thing in the world and that’s because it is. Although margins aren’t that high I’m bullish on e-commerce as it seems like people are buying just about everything over the web. Yes, identify theft and credit card problems will arise but those will also be solved. Long Amazon.

DVR is awesome but will soon be extinct. It’s annoying to have to record a show before it is on television. We want to watch any show, whenever we want, on-demand and on any platform and for free. Whichever media company allows people to do that is going to win.

So that’s my rambling for now. I would love to hear what you think. I dedicate this post to da kidz. As I’m writing I thought of this Kanye song for some reason.

We wasnt supposed to make it past 25 but the jokes on you we still alive
Throw your hands up in the sky and say we don’t care what people say

  • El Gaffney

    hey dude, good stuff. a lot to digest and too much for a comment, but a couple things: agree on the mobility issue – what do you think that means for the computers (average desk and laptops, not supercomputers)? agree on dvr but actually if i’d bet my apt on the will never pay for music again “trend” i’d be homeless. i’ve spent cash money on itunes myself (and given gift cards) – they became useful (even if through hardware – ipod). putting your best face fwd online is definitely common – for a while i didn’t want to download the nike + app on facebook because my treadmill run times were off (making me look slower) but i recently decided it was more important to show friends i was into running in order feel more connected to that community. there’s some insight for ya. boom.