If 2006 was the year that the Web 2.0 and social media reached a zenith and viral video and my space changed how we interact with technology I would submit the meme that has really driven all of this can be reduced to one word. Simplicity.
John Maeda, of MIT gives us ten laws that (if one looks carefully) closely align to who has been most successful in matters of innovation and design thinking. John summarizes that laws as:
The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction
Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
Savings in time feel like simplicty.
Knowledge makes everything simpler
Simplicity and complexity need each other.
What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.
More emotions are better than less.
In simplicity we trust.
Some things can never be made simple.
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.
John also left us with three keys:
More always appears like less by simply moving it far, far away.
Openness simplifies complexity.
Use less, gain more.
I suspect that many folks might be prone to misinterpret some of Maeda's guidance-such as where he does acknowledge that there is some complexity that is impossible to remove (or it's complexity that shouldn't be removed). He also talks about one of the most important complexities that is onften overlooked, that of time. Something that can make or break the best experiences in both interactive experiences and in service oriented design.
Update, I've notices some recent pushback on the concept of simplicity from folks such as Don Norman (which is eloquently commented on at joelonsoftware.com). For those of us that work with existing services or applications the principles of simplicity sometimes need to be addressed in ways that are different from the current crop of Web 2.0 applications. One prime example, the Office 2007 suite which although still complex embraces many of the principles that Maeda outlines.