Amidst last-minute holiday shopping, new years resolution making, and perpetual to-do list creating, I’ve been thinking about how I’d like the web to change in 2009. Much different than a list of predicted trends that are hardly original, this post will offer up my semi-serious personal online wish list for the new year. Allow me to begin:
1) A one-stop online shop (or storefront, if you will)
I know we have OpenID, FastDial, and iGoogle and online giants are developing open versions of their most popular services, but I’d like to see everything I need and use (and everything you need and use) on daily basis all in one place. Email, calendar programs, bill paying, bank accounts, online shopping, IM services, news sites, social networking, premium video, music…I could continue, but I won’t. The idea is I want everything essential available in one location, designed in a cool way, and easily customizable. I want to login to my Facebook and bank accounts from one location, and I want to contact the same support center if I have a problem with either.
CAVEAT: I don’t know if this is safe. I guess in theory aggregating everything we do online would make us easier targets for identity theft, but I’ll leave security to the experts. I just want to make things easy.
2) Irrelevant website (and application) regulation…because it’s not quantity, it’s quality
If one more faux-authoritative news site pops up touting exclusive coverage of the latest political scandal or a productivity app I don’t really need magically installs itself on my new laptop, I don’t know what I’ll do. But if the ones who rule this virtual space are reading, listen up: I’m tired of being distracted online (and on the computer). I know the Internet = free speech, but maybe there is a way to make it more difficult for crappy content and unnecessary applications to find their way into my search results and registry.
Can we penalize these websites and developers for info-pollution (and by penalize I more than increase their PPC bids, lower their quality score, or charge them a fine)? Make it a virtual prop. I’ll vote ‘yes.’
3) A fool-proof way to end spam
At some point I’m going to start thinking the deluge of spam I receive in my ancient Yahoo! e-mail account and the increasing number of junk messages that appear in my Gmail spam folder amount to a conspiracy. C’mon, no one has found a way to put the spammers to rest? I find a hard time buying it, and I’m starting to think spammers are in bed with the ISPs. It’s annoying when I can’t delete an old e-mail account because it I am indefinitely linked to it in a myriad of ways but can’t use the account either, because it gets massive amounts of junk mail every week (and forwarding wanted mail is no option because the filters are just so-so…sigh). All of this means I miss important messages from time to time. I know what you’re going to say, and yes, I’ve sent an update to the people in my address book…years ago. I still get mailed at Yahoo! with relatively time-sensitive, quasi-important requests for introductions, phone numbers, etc.
Can’t we just fix the spam problem? It would make everyone’s lives so much easier.
4) A personal online P.I. (for everyone)
When it comes to protecting our identities online, we already know we’re screwed. Whether it’s the Yahoo! Geocities website with risky photos launched in college and never taken down or the unfortunate email sent to an ex that made it onto some NY hipster’s blog, intimate details of our lives have found their way online and aren’t going anywhere. Sure, you could consult an SEO specialist to mask the evidence but the majority of people wouldn’t know what “SEO” means.
The point here is if anyone with a little Internet-savvy can access my data, I want to access it, too. Give me a list of every place my name is mentioned or likeness featured. If a website shows my address, I want to see it, and if my phone or credit card # have made their way into an index, I want to know. It’s sort of like doing a regular background check on yourself, but this one grabs info from every nook and cranny of the web, in addition to all the regular stuff. The results would be delivered in an easily customizable PDF, and everyone and their 2nd cousin would know how to get one.
Why should Internet geeks be the ones to have all the fun? It’s our data. Give it back.
5) A Web-Based Voting System to Shut Down Stuff I Don’t Like
Google’s got to be able to come up with something like this. Figure out the number of Internet users and drum up some equation that lets me know how many votes a site needs before it gets banished from virtual reality. This way, when I see a site I find revolting, all I have to do is email everyone I know and ask them to vote against it and email everyone they know and ask them to vote against it and on and on until the site in question is taken down. Does this ruin the open nature of the web? Eh. It’s kind of like how we put people in jail when they do a bad thing, but in this case, we just make it impossible for them to continue the bad thing. If the offenders put up another site, the same process applies. There are no 3 strike rules here…that would be far too heavy-handed. I just want to give users like myself a say in what we see online. Fair enough? I think so.
Hope you enjoyed my list of web-related things I’d like to see in the new year.
See you next time!