Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is very popular, especially with those who’ve had any kind of exposure to management theories or education. There are Physiological Needs, Safety Needs, Love and Belonging Needs, Esteem Needs and Self Actualization Needs. Surely, this model has had its critics as well but it still stands as a great reminder of what people want irrespective of the theoretical hierarchy or life-stage of the individual. Importantly, it lists down the needs which are universally felt among human beings.
I’ve been trying to understand what are these universal needs or activities which can be addressed through the web as we know it. Let me call these universal needs or activities as simply Universals. And when I talk about Universals I have a belief that there are many opportunities which aren’t tapped into; implicit in the word Universals is the idea that there are (felt) needs which haven’t been addressed yet in a distinctive manner.
In this article, I pick one Universal and analyze it using a certain framework. So bear with me as I list down the obvious and thereby, lead to the not-so-obvious.
Let us say that Conversation is one such Universal. Since conversations involve people and take certain forms, I prepare a grid based on ‘familiarity with people’ as one parameter and ‘form of conversation’ as another. Here’s a simple grid. Mind you there are many more forms of conversations (depending on purposes) and many degrees of familiarity.

web_opportunities

NA means the need isn’t valid or pronounced enough to merit attention.
Just a ‘?’ means perhaps there is a felt need but no specific and distinctive tool/app available for such a need?

One can expand the grid. One can add more forms of conversations and drill into each type of conversation to determine what could work. For once, I can clearly see that there isn’t a great debating tool/app available as yet. People invariably use a lot of social networking sites to debate but it is one form of conversation which is so often used in public life to make decisions and come to conclusions that, to my mind, it deserves a distinctive platform.

Any thoughts?

[Guest article by Siddharth Soni, an Interaction Designer/Structuralist. Also designs earrings and is the Founder-Partner at Mississippi Earrings].

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