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The Truth About Web 2.0.


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April 25, 2007

The Truth About Web 2.0.

Bruce Nussbaum

I received this insightful comment off my post showing that only a tiny percentage of people visiting YouTube and other big social media sites actually create and put up anything. It's from Pete Mortensen and we all should ponder what he has to say. Here it is:

"This helps articulate something that was bugging me about the Corporate Design Foundation's @issue Business and Design Conference in San Francisco, which I attended yesterday.

The two topics most on everyone's tongues were the Creator economy (which basically just means Second Life, YouTube and the like) and co-creation and co-design.

There was a lot of talk about these ideas as being brand-new and also guaranteed to succeed. And this is far from true. YouTube's actual future is far from certain, and Second Life will surely be passed by another player, as it superceded The Sims, which superceded a lot of MUDDs and the like. Bill Moggridge even asked, "What is the YouTube of design?"

And I have to say, I don't particularly care. YouTube, Second Life, Flickr, Vlogs, blogs, they're all different solutions trying to meet some very core needs of people, whether they know it or not. And needs outlast solutions. I won't perform a straight-up needs analysis on these sites, but they definitely come from wanting to express oneself creatively, connect with other people, feel famous or even lead a different life, as in the case of Lonely Girl 15 and some others.

By the time we start analyzing a solution, the next way to meet the needs it addresses is already underway. We're going to miss the most important opportunities unless we see beyond the fun and exciting solution we hold in our hands.

Take this chunk of data you have presented, Bruce. It seems pretty likely to me that this is true. Why? Because tools that allow people to be designers or broadcasters have been around for years, and they have been niche. What YouTube has done is create a single repository that can find relevant video for virtually any subject you want to know about, and then provided a cross-platform, speedy solution to deliver it. The role of the people posting videos, let alone storing them, is a mechanism to this bigger goal, a place to find the videos you want when you want them. If all the clips were put up by an automated computer, most people wouldn't care.

This is the great myth of Web 2.0, that its revolution has come from people creating things. It has actually changed the Internet by putting people in control of how to measure popularity and identify your own interests. The actual content is generally from professionals. And that's a more sustainable view to take, I think. We don't become creators of entertainment, we become curators for the entertainment of ourselves and others. That's a very different kind of participation.

Maybe, and I'm just spitballing here, but maybe this is really about adoption theory, not empowering users. Maybe what Web 2.0 has done is make it easier to identify influencers and get fed the kind of innovative information you crave instead of having to sort through it yourself. We have created a more sophisticated, trustworthy way to disseminate ideas to the right audiences. As with anything, it's really the influencers who star in such a situation, not the creatives. And that is interesting."

01:40 PM

innovation

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BusinessWeek's Bruce Nussbaum reported that a shockingly small number of people actually contribute content to YouTube and Wikipedia, debunking conventional wisdom about the site's success. Well, question asked, question answered. Bruce posted Pete's r... [Read More]

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Tracked on April 27, 2007 07:29 PM

I agree with most of what Pete has said. The advent of web 2.0 isn't going to change people's behaviour in a dramatic fashion. The people who are creating content are the people who have always been creating content. The difference now is that that are showing the "world" their creations rather than their friends and family.

For example, I just finished watching Will Ferrell's "the Landlord" video. That is a video that wouldn't have been made 2 years ago. I have been reading this blog religiously for the last few months, and before that had no idea who Bruce Nussbaum was (no offence Bruce).

So, one thing that web 2.0 does create is access. Access to the thoughts, ideas and creations of people we would otherwise not have access to. It is also generating content that would not have been created previously. Bruce's thoughts and ideas as we see them in his blog are much different than what we would have seen in any business magazine.

We are all influenced by what we are exposed to. If you are a creator participating in the web 2.0 community, you be exposed to other creators around the world. So, whether it's explicit "co-design", or whether it's lurking somewhere under the surface, it is happening everyday.

Posted by: Steve Cunningham at April 25, 2007 06:10 PM

Crediting these new spaces like YouTube and Second Life with the ideas of co-creation is definitely incorrect. The underlying structure and protocols of the internet is ultimately what has led us to this point. In discussing this, Ted Byfield, a Parsons School of Design faculty in the Design & Technology department once asked the question: "User-generated content? Where do people think internet content was coming from before?"

YouTube's content management tools will keep it attractive for first-time creators, but those that are serious about producing syndicated work have a lot of options; not only in terms of distribution through technologies like RSS, but also with distributed buzz-trackers like Digg and delicious. YouTube will still be there for the uninitiated online content consumer, but bloggers are already in place using the same distribution technologies to act as the arbiters of taste for free entertainment.

I would assert that the real value lies in the dedicated producers' work. YouTube and Second Life are really great indie labels right now and the audiences they deliver are attractive, but they don't offer the kind of incentives that will keep serious producers from going it alone once audiences have had their freebie and want more.

Posted by: Cameron Browning at April 27, 2007 07:26 AM


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