understanding the web and how it can work

In the mid-90's at the beginning of the technological revolution around the web there were a surge of businesses built.  It had the feeling of a gold rush.  Everyone was absolutely giddy.  We were changing the way we lived our lives and creating value. 

Oh the businesses that we saw.  So many of them were just duplications of brick and mortar businesses hanging out on the internet, others were creative and cutting edge.  We grew and grew with ridiculous valuations and some ridiculous business schemes before the bubble popped and everything kind of skidded to a slow halt.

ImagesFast forward a few years and businesses start to peculate again.  The next iteration of the web is called 2.0.  What is interesting about the second generation is that many of the people building these companies grew up with a computer in their home.  The web, in essence, is an extension of who they are.  They don't need to study it…it just is.  Not surprising that many of the businesses built have been so disruptive as the entrepreneurs had an uncanny understanding of what we could do with this technology.  Then many other businesses layered their ideas on top of the big disruptive ones. It has been incredible to watch and be part many of those businesses. 

I recently met with someone who pitched me on their idea which in all honesty after 30 minutes I still wasn't sure I got it.  What I got is that they had gone out to all the corporations that want to touch the consumers and were willing to create deals with them prior to the roll out of the company.  Doesn't cost them anything so why not although it certainly costs time and energy.  I am pretty sure that the consumers out there are not going to jump at this idea or model that is being built for them.  I could be wrong but it is just my gut reaction.

I was thinking about that meeting and it occured to me that the digital divide is no longer about the rich vs the poor in access to technology but rather about understanding how the internet works or not.  Not understanding the technology puts you on the wrong side of the digital divide.  

When the company left my office after their pitch I realized that they might understand brick and mortar businesses but they have no idea how to build a product on the net.  Maybe it was age, maybe it was perception, maybe it was not having the ability to start small and really get it.  Who knows.  All I know is that there is a big divide between those who get it and those who dont.