And the next big thing is…

It’s only 9am but already Tom Coates is having a stressful day. He relocated to San Francisco from the UK six months ago and this weekend his entire family are coming to visit. Last night, his parents flew in from London. In a few hours, he has to pick up his younger brother from the airport. In between he has a few hours to tidy the apartment. And then he has to find the time to speak to me.

I only know all of this because I’ve been reading Tom’s Twitter updates. During our Skype chat, Tom’s politeness personified, and there’s no mention of all this other stuff. Maybe because he’s already vented his stress via Twitter. Still it’s quite weird, seeing a 360 degree picture of someone you’ve never met.

Tom’s not only busy at home; he’s also incredibly busy at Yahoo, where for the last 18 months he’s been developing start-up projects as part of the Brickhouse – Yahoo’s “skunkworks”. He’s currently head of product on Fire Eagle.

Needless to say, he still finds time to blog, and to think about “being progressive and doing something new”, which is his remit at the Brickhouse.

I thought you might like to know that, right now, Tom is particularly interested in three things:

1. Social software – communication and collaboration
2. Decentralisation (my paraphrase – sorry, I need to read the transcript)
3. The web of data

“There are larger trends at work in this industry but you can get confused by the froth at the top,” says Tom. “The social software big shift, intellectually is, I think, kind of exhausted. We’re seeing it everywhere – at scale in Facebook, creeping into business…

“The web of data is newer, more exciting. [But] all of these things predated Web 2.0. Tim [O’Reilly] used Web 2.0 to describe trends he was already seeing. You give things labels so you can handle them.

“Four or five years ago, what was really exciting was the things we saw as personal being taken public. These things become big entities in themselves. Look at Flickr – it’s now a repository of 2.9 billion photos.”

Exactly. We never know where these things are going to lead, do we? And that’s what makes it all so *exciting*.