Changing Communication, Changing World

08/22/2011 11:54 am ET | Updated Oct 22, 2011

As Libya joins neighbors in transformative political change, new information and systems of distributing information figure prominently. The National Transitional Council, the rebel governing group, informed the people of Libya and Tripoli via text message that they were capturing the capital.

As British authorities sift through the triggers of the early-August 2011 riots, social media figure prominently.

YouTube videos and cell-phone cameras have featured prominently in revolts and news flow from Syria.

The Arab Spring and other recent, mass events -- positive and negative -- have been communicated to participants, news organizations and global opinion through new communication systems and information-distribution networks. Social networks have taken a leadership role. Facebook and Twitter are in ever more hands, thanks to smartphones and tablets. Facebook's 750 million global users represent a potent new network. We look to new devices and the social networks that they use, to send out and take in the news of the world. Social networks and mobile devices increasingly use clouds to connect people, places and ideas. New connections are possible. Different types of information move across different systems.

As we move toward 2012, it is already clear that 2011 was the year of a new sector. We call this sector Web 4C. It's certainly the Web, but it's certainly not the Web of a few years ago. Web 4C stands for crowds, clouds, connections and commerce. Crowds, linked by clouds, are wielding new mobile devices to communicate different types of information across different types of network. New connections are being formed and reformed. The commercial implications are transformative. The political ramifications are revolutionary.

By late 2012, Web 4C will have even greater reach and effect than it has now. Several leading firms will be public. The market value of this sector will be well over $150 billion. Whatever the final name chosen for this sector -- Web 4C, Web 2.0, The Social Web -- we know that it is changing the world and how we see it. Growth rates remain in the double and triple digits in Web 4C space. Governments rise and fall, video games are played, messages are sent and received, love and marriage are built and destroyed. Increasingly, social networks and firms are contouring human interactions, personal and political.