Nostra-search-damus begone!

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Welcome to 2007. Rather than look forward, I'd like to take a look back. Not to 2006, but to a similar time in our collective interactive media history. Seeking such reference points is mostly for my own sanity as I attempt to put an order to a past that quickly becomes a blur.

There are days when I really wish I had access to my work e-mail from, say, 1999. I was fortunate enough to serve a Web design firm filled with curious people, in an environment that looked something like a Montessori school. We were students of life, and carefully chose the clients that we worked with.

In addition to a high price of entry (I believe it was a minimum of $1 million), clients had to demonstrate potential success. At one point we had free massages, bagel mornings and, of course, our own yoga classes.

Everyone was trusted to send all-employee e-mails, and the topics were usually thought provoking or helpful to the masses as we forged Web sites for marketers early to the interactive game.

In retrospect, these questions also yielded clues as to what was then the bleeding edge of technology. A few I vaguely remember went something like this:

  • "Has anyone worked with Vignette StoryServer?"
  • "Check out this new search engine Google. Ignore the fact that there is nothing on the page." (Thanks to Sam Effron for introducing me to the Jolly G.)
  • "What did everyone think of The Industry Standard's Standard 100 list?"
  • "Did anyone buy the new Palm VII with Internet access?"
  • "What are the chances that 2000 be the breakout year for mobile advertising?"

Of course, the arrival, adoption and next generations of the above are now a blur in my mind. I expect this to be true of 2005, 2006 and 2007 as well.

In less than a decade, we probably won't remember the exact year that the iPod reached its peak penetration, how many new accounts per day MySpace experienced in 2006, or any fact about YouTube before Google acquired it.

So while the best breakouts are the things we never saw coming (and if you did, you never expected how big they would become), we all too quickly focus on what will be next. Which, of course, will just become part of the blur in due time.

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