Posted by: Rob Hof on November 22, 2005
Amazon.com doesn’t blab about it much, but it clearly gets the Web 2.0 Power of Us participatory thing. For years, it has had customer book reviews, customer-produced product lists called Listmania, product photo uploads, and something called Purchase Circles, which indicate what products are popular in various locations and companies. (UPDATE: Oops, forgot two other new participatory activities still in beta: customer discussions and tagging.)
Now, it has wikis, those editable Web sites made most famous by the online reference source Wikipedia. ProductWikis are pages—seemingly on most every product already!—that customers can edit. Clearly, from the explanation, it’s adhering to Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View ethic, leaving opinions to customer reviews.
Here’s what else I find interesting about ProductWikis, from Amazon’s explanation:
You can view how a particular Wiki entry has changed over time, to see who has contributed what and when, and you can subscribe to be notified by email of any future updates to Wikis you are interested in. … A list of Wikis you have contributed to appears on your Your Amazon Home and Profile pages.
So Amazon’s gradually allowing you, along with your Wish List, your purchases, your clickstream, and, if you sell anything on Amazon, how good your reputation is—to build up a pretty detailed database of what you like (or don’t) and what’s important to you. I don’t know what Amazon will do with this—fortunately, it seems to have a pretty light touch with how it uses what it knows about you—or what it will allow us to do with all this data. But as it grows, it could become a pretty powerful profile.
Here’s hoping Amazon will give us the means to control access to that profile and, ideally, use it throughout the Web to get what we really want, and avoid what we don’t.
Tip of the hat to Ben McConnell at Church of the Customer blog, who apparently saw these first.