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TNBG / The Next Big Thing

Some of you may recognize the name Marc Andreessen and others may not. Marc is an American entrepreneur and is best known for developing an internet browser named Mosiac – back in 1993. Marc is only one of six inductees into the World Wide Web hall of fame.  Suffice it to say, Marc’s work in coding up Mosaic at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA) cracked open a door that allowed the internet to appear on our screens.

Also, it goes without saying when Marc speaks, people listen. Recently Marc was interviewed in Wired magazine about the next big thing. As a leading venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, he sees his fair share of ideas and dreams.

Back in 1993, the Internet was only accessed through dial-up modems and the content was very outlined form and void of graphics. Within less than 20 years, this paradigm shift in communications has touched every facet of human life across the planet. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Google, reportedly told Marc “I don’t know what Mosaic was, I wasn’t paying attention in Jr. High.”

Social Media is now taking hold of how we communicate. Interestingly enough, this area is moving quickly and reinventing itself even faster. It’s hard to believe that MySpace was the most visited website in the world surpassing Google in 2006. Now MySpace is bleeding and laying off staff to stay afloat. Is Pinterest here to stay or will it die or be gobbled up by a larger company? Banking services such as taking credit cards via Smart Phone are being offered by Square. Soon phones will have the ability to pay for our purchases by using NFR (near field communications).

With all of these swift changes, what is the next big thing? Marc Andreessen believes it is the smart phone. In essence, it is a computer in the hand of the user. Like the Internet in 1993, Marc sees the smart phone as being under-hyped. It’s easy to agree with the assessment too. Try to upgrade to a new dumb phone and you’ll find very limited choices. Additionally, wireless carriers see smart phones as a cash cow since they have pricing latitude over data transfer rates.

Very recently, Facebook announced it was building an organ donor tool as a feature to it’s social networking service. This move shows that there is plenty of room to use the communication services of the Internet and mobile technologies to add value. Physicians are now posting patient information online. And let’s not forget a whole shift of governments and rulers in the Middle East labeled the Arab Spring.

No one knows for sure what the next big thing is, but here are three things to look out for.

First –  big things empower people to do things they couldn’t before. The Internet has opened up information and communications on a scale never seen before in the history of the world… all the common man.

Second – big things are intuitive. Apple ITunes, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr. They just feel right and are easy to work with.

Third – big things bring benefit to society, just like Facebook building a donor tool. People want to be valued and also want to help others.  Big things make this possible.

So is it smart phones, tablets, the cloud or the solution to the world’s dependence on carbon-based fuels? No one knows for sure, but one thing is very certain. Change is the constant and is happening on a bigger and faster scale than anyone could have ever imagined just two decades ago.

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