Evolution of Web: From ICE to ICE TEA!

In the first decade of web (1990-2000) an acronym was extensively used – “ICE”, it stands for Information, Communication and Entertainment primarily to refer to the various uses of the web. Websites used to provide information that search engines used to help in finding, tools like email and instant messengers were used for communication and there were plethora of sites that used to provide entertainment content (esp. porn and jokes). It was basically a read only web driven by text and image based content powered by a dial up internet.

In the second decade (2000 – 2010) the web took a major leap in terms of the uses it can be put to and the only major difference in terms of technology capability was that it became writable and got powered by broadband internet. Ecommerce and Web 2.0 revolutionized the web and many more applications of web emerged. The web evolved from ICE to ICE TEA, in terms of the value it gives us and uses it can be put to at a basic level!



We now not just read information but can also produce/publish it, netizens who were primarily consumers became prosumers (producers + consumers). The format of information evolved from just text and image to also include audio, video and animation. Today video is the fastest growing format and overall codified information doubles every 11 hours.


We evolved from just email and instant messages to phone calls, web conferencing, tweets, and status updates. Communication today has evolved and became Collaboration that can be enabled at a large level spread across continents. The challenge now is to tap into the huge cognitive surplus (as Clay Shirky puts it) that the collaborative web (Web 2.0) unleashed to us and to use it for purposes beyond just entertainment.connected_world


From image and text based entertainment web evolved to provide 3D virtual worlds, advance gaming and video based entertainment. It still is the biggest driver of web traffic and revenue. Challenge is to motivate netizens/prosumers to apply their cognitive surplus and web time for causes like digital activism and social good.


Beyond ICE we started to use Web for transacting by using virtual money through credit/debit cards and net banking. Ecommerce today is a norm and still one of the fastest growing markets. We comfortably transact on web to buy products and services and do banking and other non-monetary transactions like legal and contractual.


The new participative and prosumers driven web is the place where anyone can earn from it by making their services (time, skills and produce) like coding, images/photos, tuitions etc available through various platforms, by developing applications and providing them as SaaS. This earning potential will increase with time and will become more wide spread. The percentage share offered by platforms to providers/co-creators will also increase with increased competition and reducing cost of technology.

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One of the most important changes that have happened with a participative web is that now people can establish online reputation by participating and collaborating online and this reputation is increasingly tracked and used to evaluate people and organizations.

So what do you think the Web will evolve to in the next decade (2010-20)? Where will it go from being ICE TEA? What can be the new uses at a generic level? Will everything move positively ahead or there could be backlashes or undoing also?

Do share your thoughts and ideas in comments.

[Guest article by Sumeet Anand is Founder & CEO of Kreeo (i-nable Solutions), a startup in the space of Enterprise 2.0 and collective intelligence. img credit]

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