So I enjoyed the beaches of the Sandestin resort in Florida late last week thanks to the wedding of a good friend.  My wife and I made a mini-vacation out of it since we won’t be on vacation again until… well… who knows?  We enjoyed three good days there before heading back to Seattle.

Now I grew up in the South — living in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.  But even I wasn’t prepared for some of the things I saw:

- Melted cheese at the breakfast bar at our hotel, along with the line of people waiting to put some on their eggs,
- The sheer number of morbidly obese people I saw there… it was routine to run into (almost literally) folks who had to be pushing 400 lbs.,
- How many folks didn’t travel with their laptops or even a cell phone,

Florida felt a lot more like a foreign country than the West Coast, much less places where I grew up.  It felt strange.

I guess my point here is that there is a big world outside of the West Coast.  And it’s easy to get so deep into our work & our industry that we forget how our customers live, what they do, what their interests are, and what will resonate with them.  In "Americana" (think everywhere but the West Coast & the cities of the Northeast Corridor), people are *much* different.  It’s not just a red state/blue state thing, it’s much more fundamental than that.  People have different attitudes about life, work, leisure, religion, you name it.  I always knew this, but it was paricularly acute on this trip.

As for what that means for Web 2.0, I think the people of "Americana" could really take or leave most technologies that we in the Web 2.0 world regard as "critically important".  It isn’t to say that people don’t use modern technologies — they certainly do — but technology just isn’t that important to them.  Life is slower, and for the most part that is OK.  Technologies enhance life, but they aren’t a replacement for life in Americana.

Many companies creating Web 2.0 innovations will either be acquired or fail altogether before they need to strategize to meet the needs of "Americana".  But there is room for companies to create successful products or technologies more for the masses than for the pundits.  See current examples such as AOL (how are they still around?), Yahoo, Netzero, Zombies, Vampires, etc.  And while the rest of us laugh at these businesses or wonder how they succeed, they’re cashing checks and they live to fight another day.  That’s more than a lot of visionary Web 2.0 businesses can say.

I am not sure what this all means for our business, but it certainly got me thinking.