better than real time? meet the intention web | the qualified yes

exec summ: remember when you learned about today’s news tonight or tomorrow? now news is showing up on the web and search results as soon as it happens. what’s next? meet the intention web.

when I saw a headline from  jeremiah owyang’s blog earlier this month about ‘ the intention web,’ I figured it had to be an gag (see below).

I mean, what with all the talk recently about moving to a real-time web, with search results appearing a nano-second after the query is entered, it’s amusing to think about questions being answered before they’re asked.

but owyang was serious in his discussion of a web-driven paradigm in which users communicate not just what they are  doing right now, but what they plan to do in the future. owyang states

Some may call this the anticipation web, intention web, or forward looking web, but regardless of the name, there are some unique opportunities:  1) People can now use their social relationships that have similar goals or events on their cal and improve their experience.  2) They can also identify who in their social circles are most likely going where, increasing their knowledge of top events.  3) This provides businesses with the ability to listen to provide highly contextualized offerings and experiences for those explicitly stating their intents. Once a listening strategy is developed, expect Social CRM to be in the foreground mining, organizing, and making this data actionable.

ok, interesting, but not something that will change my life today. jeremiah published a followup post that listed examples of practitioners of the intention web, and I started to get it.

one of the examples was say you see an event posted for one of your meetup groups that you might be interested in attending. one of the features of the meetup site is that it lets you see who has already said they will be there. you see that a few friends or colleagues have rsvp’d. now, you might have been interested enough to sign up even if no one you knew was going. however, the knowledge that people you knew would be there too can often tip the scale to a “yes” response.

this goes back to an earlier post about  the power of affinity. I hypothesized that personal connections can be a powerful motivator, even if the connection is unrelated to the primary call to action. the phenomenon is also a confirmation of owyang’s assertion that the intention web is a force to be reckoned with.

beyond social events – think about the last business event you were deciding whether to attend. if you signed up online through or a similar service, you probably had the chance to peruse the attendee list. whether you’re in the big apple or a formerly sleepy little town like boston, the exploding number of options for how to spend your time is forcing a lot of people to  examine their scheduling priorities. input from the intention web will be more and more a factor.

owyang predicts that the real time web will “quickly evolve into the intention web.” remember that what he is talking about is a voluntary phenomenon. it takes advantage of information that users proactively put out on the web. he closes his post with of vision of a future where “you walk into a store with your preferred items, meal, or drink already nicely packaged for you.” sounds good to me.

in the wake of this week’s facebook privacy policy changes, however, I suspect there will be marketers eager to capitalize on an inadvertent intentional web, where information is shared without the knowledge or express consent of the individual. for the intentional web to achieve its potential, controls on the use of the information will need to be in place. the same holds for the real time data currently available.

what do you think about the idea of the intentional web? what uses do you see for this type of information? share your thoughts in the comments and retweet the information if you think it’s interesting.