When I wrote about the experiment Mars did with its Skittles.com site a few months ago, some people turned up their nose considering it little more than a rip-off of something advertising agency Modernista tried a year earlier.
Basically, Skittles.com itself is a “widget.” Links in the primary navigation go to Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Twitter search. In other words, it links to sites other than itself and does so as part of its architecture.
Guess what, it’s not a rip-off, it’s a trend, and at least two more such sites have entered the landscape: Sharpieuncapped and Building43.
SharpieUncapped is a site devoted to showing off the creativity of its customers. From the home page on, links take visitors to Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the Sharpie blog, which, itself, is a separate site.
Click the Flickr link and you’re taken to a search page for the term “sharpie,” which returns groups set up by customers and fans. The YouTube link goes to Sharpie’s channel, Facebook to the official Sharpie Page, and so forth. In fact, the site refers to these as “communities,” which, of course, they are.
This is the latest project from Robert Scoble, and is a site that focuses on the newest, cool stuff happening on the Web. It’s sponsored by Robert’s new employer, Rackspace.
The Building43 Manifesto, written by Robert, gets to the heart of what’s truly going on with the site: “We could have taken six more months and built our own forum, our own video distribution system, or our own content management system, but instead we just got started by using WordPress, Blip.tv and FriendFeed, among other technologies.”
While it’s reminiscent of what Scoble started years ago at Microsoft with Channel 9, this site takes that concept and reinvents it in a more socially-oriented form.
Brains on Fire
One more contender in this space, a site that certainly deserves honorable mention, is Brains on Fire, the Greenville, SC-based advertising agency. Agency principal, Spike Jones, told me that as much as 90% of the content on the site comes from other places, like Twitter and YouTube.
Do you see the trend here? The Web as decentralized, in the cloud, a chain of shared connections where no one site is the begin-all, end-all, but a hub leading to other destinations. That’s what the Web is becoming and you had better see that clearly now, rather than later.
Does your current company Web site reflect this shift in mindset? If not, perhaps you should look for another Web design firm the next time around, one that does understand this new mentality.
Lastly, if you know of similar examples that might be useful to our readers, please feel free to list them in a comment.