Google Internet

Technology Growing In Public Consciousness

Google Zeitgeist 2008 is out. As always it’s a fun to read because it’s a recap of 2008. It’s also gives some pretty good insight into 2009, in particular for tech since people tend to turn to Google to explain technology for them. I noticed some very interesting things:

What is…

  1. what is love
  2. what is life
  3. what is java
  4. what is sap
  5. what is RSS
  6. what is scientology
  7. what is autism
  8. what is lupus
  9. what is 3g
  10. what is art

What Is RSS

Number 5 “what is RSS” is really what’s interesting. There’s long been speculation if RSS will ever move beyond a more technical audience. It powers many things on the internet, and is possibly the most popular use of XML (I’ve got no data on that), but it’s never had tremendous adoption by mainstream users who still Google for websites and read news off the homepages.

Steve Rubel thinks it’s peaked at 11% citing Forrester research back in October. Personally I think it’s still got a way to go. It will grow, but slowly. The following reasons are why I think this will turn out to be true:

  • RSS and “feed” are terms that are just now entering mainstream public consciousness. People tend to see things a while before they care about them when it comes to technology. They prefer not to waste time on fads. What we see above is evidence of a transitional step in this process.
  • Modern browsers finally offer a smoother process to help users take advantage of RSS. For most of it’s life browsers simply showed raw XML on the screen, this was unusable for 99.5% of the population. Showing XML looked foreign and overwhelming. The newer interfaces, while they can still be improved upon, are much easier for users.
  • RSS readers are at their infancy. I’m an advocate of Google Reader since very early on. That said, I think there’s a lot that can be improved upon. I think they can become a bit more usable for mainstream users, in particular when it comes to bucketing into folders and sifting/sorting. It’s management of data rather than just displaying that needs work.
  • Greater need to manage time. Lack of time and information overload have long been growing problems for people. RSS actually helps here (unless your Steve Rubel and addicted) by reducing the amount of time you need to access and digest information. I keep tabs on a few hundred sites with minimal effort throughout the day, it’s essentially a constantly evolving newspaper for me. People need to reduce the time they spend monitoring things they care about. RSS is the leading candidate to help them in this task.

Because of the need, and the fact that RSS is a pretty good solution, despite the lack of good interfaces to intproduce it to users, I suspect there will still be growth as people overcome the barriers and take advantage of it. The only way that won’t happen is if there’s a more disruptive technology. Even if that doesn’t pan out, RSS will be with us for many years due to it’s pervasive use across the net.

What is 3G

I presume this is highly related to the iPhone 3G release. The term “iPhone” appears in the Zeitgeist for several countries but not the US. I suspect that’s because it’s new to those countries. What’s new to the US is the iPhone 3G, and that’s what people wanted more information on.

What is Java, What is SAP

Enterprise IT departments love the Google. Enough said.

Other thoughts

I was a little disappointed to not see “who is rick astley“. As well as “i can has cheezburger?”