I’ve been noticing something that I think will make some big strides in 2013.
It’s a trend that I think we’ll see in consumer services. That’s right, even amidst the gloom of the series A crunch and the flock towards enterprise focused software, I think we are going to see a big and important shift in consumer facing services in the coming year and beyond.
That shift I think is the movement from real-time to the timeless. Or, from temporary and ephemeral to durable and lasting.
That may seem ludicrous when we are hearing about the explosiveness of services like Snapchat, which is temporary and disposable by design, and of course, Twitter and other similar services on a smaller scale. But I notice more and more users growing frustrated and doing unnatural things to combat the fickleness of the content that flies across our screens each day.
One of our portfolio company founders, Jeremy Fisher, shared this essay with me a few weeks back that argues that we are entering the age of “anthologies” where users will be given more tools to reconstruct their content flows for more useful consumption. From the article:
“An anthology flies in the face of the web as it exists, simply in that one may “finish” because it “ends.”3 I hope we are finally admitting to ourselves that we can’t stomach as much as we thought. We’ve realized that the way to make sense of this meal is to step away from the table for a while and come back later.”
I see services that are starting to hint at this. In the realm of written media, some version of this has been going on for a while. Time shifting tools like Instapaper and Pocket are very popular tools, and curation and summary services like Long Reads and Circa are pointing in this direction. But I think we’ll see this theme take hold in a bunch of other areas. As a parent for young children, I experience the need and see it in the experience of my friends. We have tons of content out there about our kids – they reside on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc. and are flying through our social graphs at lightning speed. The need to share and record is well solved, but are we really building the kind of collection of memories that we are taking these photos or videos for in the first place?
I often hear parents lament that they are concerned about storage and security when it comes to family photos. To, me that is a case of articulating a concern that is the symptom, not the actual problem. If I could guarantee 100% security and free storage for images forever, do you really think that we’ll go into our cloud in 10 years and sift through 10,000′s of photos to share memories with our kids? I submit that the beauty of photo albums and wedding slideshows is not in the volume of images, but in the selection, curation, and organization of images in a way that turns content into stories… and in turn use those stories to revive memories.