Consequences of the Web of Impulses

On the last The Next Web conference in Amsterdam I did a Pecha Kucha style talk to share some of my thoughts on the consequences of the next phase in the internet: the Web of Impulses. In short the story behind the slides I published before.

If we look to the history of the web in a nutshell, we see a development from a web of documents to a web of data we produce and remix ourselves. The hyperlink gave us a whole new information experience and brought us the possibility to build a pagerank system to provide relevancy. We see a that we grow in the web of people the last years where conversations add a new relevancy system to filter the huge amount of data.

The next phase of the web is just starting. With all the realtime streams we are producing and the connecting of products to the web with the internet of things a web of impulses is emerging. All the choices we made by using products and things we like will contribute to the realtime profile.

With the web of impulses the web as platform is the starting point, on top of where we create service ecosystems that are pervasive and persuasive. The new services are a set of functions that are modelled to an end result within the device, sometimes controlled by the brand itself, but also embedded in other tools.

Marketing will be more and more replaced with persuasive systems. Services will evolve to half way manufactured forms where the use of the service will complete the complete experience. As Kevin Kelly stated in an article on the increase of diversity: services will adapt to the one context of that one person.

Facebook is setting some important steps here. You can discuss the openness and the privacy aspects, but the instant personalization and the like-system are the two sides of the medal of this web of impulses. With the Like-system Facebook goes out on the web to gather impulses and add these to the profiles of the user.
With this profile the user can have instant personalization, where a site as Yelp or Pandora uses the Facebook-profile to create a personal relevant experience. Now only on 5 other websites, but this will grow. The way we can control our own profile will be discussed of course.

For designers of the new web it is important to create the right feeling devices and services. As Tim O’Reilly stated well: It’s all about the services you create using these sensors. People are also more and more impulsed driven, continuous partial attention; we need to tickle people to action based experiences.
I think there are three important rules to keep in mind if we are want to create new things for the Web of Impulses.

1. script the service and the touch points will follow
Service design is the new black, and that is well deserved. You need to focus on creating valuable service experiences before going to think on designing the touch points.

2. adapt to the moment and go for the complete moment
Forget about designing complete website structures as default with homepages, overview pages and the standard funnels. Try to design out of the moment of landing as a one time moment of truth where you can use instant personalization to grab the visitor and make a complete fitting experience.

3. create play (not games) as recipe for persuasive services
The principle of gaming and especially play are very strong for building these persuasive systems. That is more than making using into a game, it is more about the right flow.
As Hannah Donovan of says: you have to mix the right amount of expected and unexpected experiences.

In this presentation I did only a short introduction to the thoughts we have on the development of new service ecosystems. In the presentation on The Web and Beyond I will have more time to go deeper into these principles. For me the Web of Impulses bring a lot of new opportunities to create the next web experience.

Published by


I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

4 thoughts on “Consequences of the Web of Impulses”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s