Site and Service


[Addition to the original post, pre-publish: by hanging on to this post for a couple of days I’m publishing after Albert Wenger’s post and thus missed the opportunity to say “see? I thought of this, too, so I’m astonishingly perceptive.” Well, 50% of something-or-other is showing up, so I can’t really complain.

But this does underscore one interesting point: in the comments on Fred Wilson’s Golden Triangle post, he notes that “you’ve gotta have a thesis that is well articulated and well understood among the partnership.” Wenger’s post proposes that a huge amount is queued up to happen in web services; Wilson’s post (in my opinion, discussed below) is a functional rough cut of the areas in which web services are really developing.

It would appear that at USV the thesis is well articulated and understood among the partnership. Neat.]

The Post

While it may be a tautological statement, let’s begin by noting that a recent post by Fred Wilson sparked a fair amount of discussion in webtech circles. He proposed that the three current big megatrends in the web/tech sector are mobile, social, and real-time,” calling it the “golden triangle.”

The discussion in the comments is well worth reading, but [as you might expect] I’m going to go in a slightly different direction. What’s most interesting to me about this proposal is that much of what falls under this (admittedly large) umbrella is what fascinates me personally: it’s about services, not sites.

Now, to get this out of the way: I am not saying that this is an either/or proposition for the companies involved, nor that the “live/now/real-time” web will crush the “dead web,” see the dead web driven before it, and hear the associated lamentations. I’m saying that the area that Fred calls the golden triangle is:

  • An area where things that were wildly impractical just a few years ago are starting to happen.
  • An area that is going to have a significant effect on how we think about the web in coming years.
  • An area that is fascinating.

This is all particularly significant to me at the moment because I went to see Kurt Vile with Birds of Maya last week, and Six Organs of Admittance with Om a few days ago…and I told Songkick that I was going to those shows. Because Songkick knew I was going, they were capturing the relevant snippets that I offered up on Twitter.

This is important, because while Songkick is already an excellent way to find out about upcoming shows and see what shows my friends are going to, that isn’t going to be enough. They need to be a service that’s intertwined with live music, not a site about live music. I could write reviews of those shows on the site (I won’t, but I could), but capturing my immediate reactions to those shows without my having to do any extra work is a compelling offer, and a step towards the service mindset. They’ve already got social in the mix, and they’re clearly working out how mobile and real-time can neatly fit in.

Songkick still needs a great and accessible site for a variety of reasons, but I suspect that before too long it will be the service that’s creating much of the site. Twitter, Foursquare, Disqus (which hasn’t gotten enough credit for how radical it really is, incidentally)…think about all the examples that have popped up in the past few years in that Golden Triangle; the objective isn’t to create a site that draws users for long sessions, but rather to create a low friction service that’s collecting interesting little snippets all over the place and all the time.

We all started thinking about “web services” a number of years ago, as a machine-to-machine proposition. In a weird reversal of the RSS adoption situation, I think that we’re starting to see that “web services” may be even more interesting and useful when they’re aimed more directly at users.