Paolo Coelho has written in his last book, “The Zahir”:
“[…] One day, I am going to write a travel guide containing only maps, addresses of hotels, and with the rest of the pages blank. That way people will have to make their own itinerary, to discover for themselves restaurants, monuments, and all the magnificent things that every city has, but which are never mentioned because ‘the history we have been taught’ does not include them under the heading ‘Things you must see’. I have been to Zagreb before. And this fountain does not appear in any of the local tourist guides, but it is far more important to me than anything else I saw here – because it is pretty, because I discovered it by chance, and because it is linked to a story in my life […]”.
When reading this last night I have been thinking that he does not need to write such a guide: this is already happening on the web these days. Right now. You don’t just buy a tourist guide anymore. The Internet can act as a guide. Other people’s comment about places, and their stories, can guide you.
It’s not anymore just buying a guide from some publisher, it is being part of the publication as well. And contributing back what you discover.
This is what happens on 43places, for example. See what the are saying over there: http://www.43places.com/entries/view/1239344 – “These are YOUR places” – “If you’re new to 43 Places you may not realize that all the places on this website have been added by users. Once upon a time, all we had were country names and a few major cities. 43 Places is a community effort where users are actively filling up the site with their favorite spots and the places they want to visit.
Along these lines all of us users can also correct and enhance data on 43 Places […]”
43Places fits perfectly with the example of the tourist guide. But there is more than just a tourist guide. The great news is that the web is becoming an immense platform for sharing stories, experiences, feelings.
Hugh MacLeod describes this aspect (that is: the evolution of the web in the way it lets people and companies interact) on his famous blog: http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/003358.html
“[…] Dotcom basically built glorified Yellow Pages. You go, you get the info you need, hopefully you buy something en route. The relationship between the user and the website is impersonal, not unlike the realtionship between the Yellow Pages and its readers. They show, you select. They give, you take.
The architecture of Web 2.0, however, is about people giving away their stuff i.e. “sharing”. Whether its a well-written blog post, or photos uploaded onto Flickr, or videos uploaded onto YouTube, the act of you giving is every bit as important as people other people receiving. This is why the number of blog readers isn’t that much larger than the number of blog writers. Writing is as important as reading. Giving is as important as taking.
Suddenly for the first time in history, the world’s most powerful form of media is about giving, not taking. The implications are vast.[…]”