There's a part of the internet reserved for questions – everything we ever wanted to know about life, the universe, and what our favorite actors love to eat for breakfast – you know, that sort of thing. Google alone is a mega-machine that doubles as an oracle on any given day: go to the search field, type a word or two, and the auto-complete function gives you an idea of what people wonder about. What we look for is both so simple and complex that an intersection of the human soul and data algorithm can become poetry.
But let's stick to the questions. For years, community-driven sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora have become popular exactly for the purpose of replying to a wide spectrum of inquiries – from the mind-boggling to the uninformed to the ridiculous. When Wikipedia and WebMD is not enough, and when search results fail to answer if it ever rains in Australia, answer sites are there to lend an ear.
Lately though, a more sophisticated breed of websites have emerged and sought to create a place where people can discuss ideas, engage in conversations, and provide serious answers to serious questions. And it's not just limited to regular people anymore – celebrities, musicians, politicians, and just about anyone who has a small measure of fame use this method to interact with fans.
Reddit's Ask Me Anything, or AMA, is a subsection of the Reddit website that has gained notoriety and credibility among users. The website's format works just like a forum, perhaps even as an online press conference, only there are no videos and microphones involved. There's just you, the screen, the keyboard, and a commenting system. Users are also able to vote up or down, which makes it easier to push more interesting comments or questions to everybody else's attention. Notable famous individuals who have taken part in an AMA are Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones, tennis god Roger Federer, astronaut Chris Hadfield, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, comic book legend Stan Lee – even President Barack Obama. But it is not limited to big names – regular users can have their own AMA, too.
MobioINsider, on the other hand, is focused on being a social network for influencers and their audience. It is a place where fans can get together and learn more about their favorite celebrity and form a community online. Famous actors, big name brands, entrepreneurs, musicians, and athletes can also create an account on the site and get connected with their followers. People can send questions; celebrities then answer and publish it on their streams. What separates this service from other social media like Twitter and Facebook is that MobioINsider aims to monetize content and share revenues with its influencers. It's an ecosystem created to benefit fans who clamor for new content and information from their idols, while also rewarding busy influencers who take the time to sit down and participate in a more intimate setting than they are used to.
Lastly, there's Ask.FM, which has become a favorite among teenagers, but also well-known bloggers and internet personalities who have found themselves with a considerable following. This site allows for people to post anonymously, which was seen as both interesting and devastating at the same time, because results could go either way. While some take this opportunity to ask a friend something they would never do in person, others see this as a chance to become a bully since nobody would ever know who's behind the question. The site has its perks and its own share of drama, which might appeal to a certain demographic.
For centuries, people must have been visited with the need to seek the great perhaps. We could only wonder what they found walking through the forest, or burying their heads in a book, or sitting at a busy food court in a mall, just observing. Certainly today, you only need to open your internet browser. The power, after all, is in your hands. Dare to ask, and somebody out there, will surely answer.