While at work last week a co-worker and I were talking about testicular torsion and wondering what it was exactly and how it could happen. Two gals with inquiring minds. Don’t Ask.
She loaded a search engine page and start searching for answers. After watching her go through the first few results and getting some info, I asked her to type wikipedia.org and do a search for it within wikipedia.
We immediately found the exact result we wanted and with more information on that one page than we had clicking on a few results in Google. Bonus! We didn’t have to dodge popups or dig through mega blocks of adsense to get to the content :P.
A few years ago I helped develop the ‘use search engines for answers’ habit with my co-workers. Google for info and Yahoo for shopping. And now I’m helping them develop Wikipedia habits.
I’ve been thinking about that for a few days now. Years ago we trained ourselves to type Google.com or Yahoo.com in the address bar and look for answers to questions we had about anything and everything. Want a book? First bookcloseouts.com then Amazon.com. Used car part or out of print book? Ebay.com.
Would it be a safe bet to say in five years the majority of surfers will be typing Wikipedia.org in the address bar first when we want answers to questions or when we’re researching something? I think it’s very likely.
If I’m in the business of building affiliate websites to earn an income, I want to keep that in mind and not set myself up to compete with Wikipedia.
What won’t Wikipedia be able to take over or compete with? Some ideas:
- Personalities/Personas/Identities (ie. Terry at SuperAff)
- Social Interaction & Activity (ie. forums, blogs)
- Personal Collections (ie. hockey cards, post cards, doilies, autographs)
- Sharing Experiences (ie. diaries, weight loss journals, crochet pattern developments, travels)
- Personal Creativity (ie. scripts writing, cooking experiments, poetry, artwork)
- Politics, Religious Beliefs
Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Amazon, MSN, MySpace–they own search, information, shopping, socializing. But nothing can ever be engineered or developed that will replace a domain that’s firmly stamped with personal experience, opinions, ideas or personality.
Maybe that’s the secret sauce both MySpace and blogging are hinting at. Creating a space that large numbers of people (traffic) respond to or connect with on a personal level. The tricky part is monetizing that space in a way that converts well without being a turn off.