Mozilla is announcing Weave, an application that will enhance the browsing experience in various ways. I’m somewhat confused about what this means to users, but my early understanding is that this is a Flock-like approach, trying to make the browser environment a better one for socializing, multitasking, and customized uses.
Generally I think this is a positive thing. For reasons I don’t understand few of us really take the time to use and configure the many applications that allow us to customize our desktops in more functional ways. Google desktop, My Yahoo, Flock , and many more tools would allow us to build a great “control panel” for our online needs, but this appears to be a fairly low priority for most of us. I think it is analogous to how rarely people use even the simplest extra commands at Google search to refine their search. For reasons that escape me we don’t like to improve on design or functionality even when doing so is easy and does not take much time. Some do, most don’t. Why?
Massive multiplayer online gaming is increasingly becoming a mainstream social activity. Leaving aside for the moment many interesting questions about how this affects the offline behavior and psychology of those who are playing these games many hours each day, there are a lot of practical business issues of great interest as well.
Daya over at Webguild suggested recently that the next generation of social networks may be inspired by these multiplayer online video games. This is a really interesting idea for game developers – could you maintain the excitement of the game play but have players socialize after the game was over in the same way they socialize on Myspace or Facebook? I think it’s a tall order. There is limited socializing in the game space to set up games, play, collect a team, yell at your teammates or opponents, etc, but from a business and social perspective this is probably not significant as social activity outside of the (highly relevant) gaming activity.
An amazing killer application – pun intended – would harvest the motivation, intellect, and creative thought that goes into playing online games and use this for more practical applications – perhaps in real time as tens of millions play the games. Unfortunately the most viable applications for the current crop of mostly violent games would be military, leading to a very sinister vision of teenagers around the world unwittingly (or even volunteering?!) to help direct battle in real places. But I’m thinking more along the lines of some fuzzy logic applications where problem solving at the game level could be used for problem solving in some business applications. Probably not practical – especially as computers become better equipped to create content and analyze opportunities.