Speaking in London Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales made an obvious but important observation: the collaborative aspect of the internet – what many would call a key aspect of “Web 2.0”, is still in its infancy.
Although Wales seemed to focus on video collaboration and how that could improve I’d suggest that the real power of the online medium will *not* be video – rather we’ll find that many different combinations of photos, videos, and community will evolve into the next key style of web interaction.
This could be along the lines of a more powerful and more ubiquitous Flickr, acting within loose alliances of connected niche sites connected by Facebook and Myspace and Google Social and Open ID.
The niche aspect of the internet is already clear in Politics, where you find blogs and commenters and social networkers sticking pretty close to home, preaching to their own choirs and repeating the same themes throughout loosely connected social networks dominated these days by either Obama supporters or Obama bashers (who generally are McCain supporters but almost never talk about McCain!).
Obviously there are many, many exceptions, but if you look at many of the most successful major blog efforts it is interesting how partisan they are and how uninterested they are in providing more than ideological fodder consistent with what their readers already think: DailyKOS, DrudgeReport, Huffington Post, WorldNewsDaily are a handful of commercially successful sites that add little to an informed discussion but remain more popular than the far more balanced views you’ll find elsewhere. It’s encouraging that CNN and other major news outlets are looking more to interactivity and blogging, though I predict they’ll find it very challenging to monetize these social media assets in the amounts to which they are accustomed. As with Yellow Page websites, I think major media blog sites may struggle with the difference between advertising costs and expectations online and off.