I’m going to let you ponder this question: If it isn’t on the Web, does it exist? Personally I cant think of many companies that are reasonably successful that aren’t on the Web in some form or the other. They either have a Yellow Pages ad online or have a website that is updated frequently to keep customers informed. There are obviously thousands of companies that are small and don’t need a website, but then they don’t exist to the people outside of their general community.
I can’t personally remember the last time I picked up an actual Yellow Pages to look up the information about a company. I am more inclined to Google the name of what I want and see if it has a website or a listing online. This is a problem because I won’t go through the extra trouble of flipping through a Yellow Pages if I can’t find something through a Google search. I know there are plenty of people out there that are like me, we rely solely on sites like Google that anything that we cant find on there doesn’t exist in our world.
This doesn’t refer to companies alone, books and journals that we cant find online are foreign to us because we pretty much everything we need we can find through a Google search. I was able to simply Google Andrew Keens Book The Cult Of The Amateur and find almost a complete copy of the book. Web 2.0 users can find almost any piece of literature they choose simply by Googling it. I still buy books without Googling them, but I feel that it would help me decide whether I want to spend money on a book if I could first preview a little bit of the book online first. These electronic representations of books exist to aggressive web users while their printed counterparts are a thing of the past to them.
Companies and non-profit associations also are beginning to embrace social networking sites and blogs to make them more available to the Web 2.0 generation. The American Cancer Society has active blogs on its website along with a Relay For Life in Second Life. This is an example of how they are making sure they “exist” outside of their normal boundaries. People all over the world can participate in the Relay For Life in Second Life.
I think that it is getting to the point where companies without a major presence on the web can and will be left behind, but I don’t feel that it will affect small mom and pop companies as much as large multinational organizations. Small businesses will be able to get by fine without having a large Web presence but someday, in the distant future, everything will be on the Web and companies and products without significant Web presence will be ultimately lost.
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