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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Further to Web 2.0

GigaOm weighs in with a mostly-thumbs-down on the Web 2.0 conference; seems the cause for complaint was a lot of excessive caution and cynicism, fueled by money.

Maybe that's why I've always had a sneaking suspicion that it's more fun to be out in the relative hinterland -- you can get away with more when less is at stake (refs: Atwood, Survival; Salutin, Marginal Notes). As I haven't read a classic Canadian author since 1985, don't hold me to this theory -- it's more going on instinct and naughty events like Mitch Joel's Geek Dinner II.

Apparently the talk at the Web 2.0 event turned to what will be the proverbial sock puppet of this bubble. What will crash and burn hardest? Some said social bookmarking sites, others thought mommy-oriented social networks. Both good candidates, for clear reasons. On the latter, as useful as these sites may be, there are going to be too many of them, because the reason for launching is driven more by the lifestyle and "first thoughts" of the entrepreneur (I'd like to help other moms and keep a flexible schedule, ergo I'll launch a Mom-oriented... ) than market demand. You can only have so many of these things.

On the social bookmarking stuff, I admit I'm still baffled. What's so new about tossing a link up to the network and rating it? Such projects were funded last time around (HotLinks, Backflip), and then during Bubble 1.5 (P2P social bookmarking such as OpenCola and Clip2, this time around, we also see self-funded research-sharing, folder-sharing efforts like Jeteye compete with Google's product development efforts, etc.; and farther along the scale of mission critical there is the actual wiki movement, leading to a recent acquisition, again... of Jotspot by Google)

The whole concept of rating stuff and sharing it is becoming ubiquitous, so it looks more like a feature than a company, with the exception of a couple of today's faddish systems like Digg, which may manage to cash out before it craps out. Yahoo and Google will certainly build this functionality into different aspects of search, if users like it. Social bookmarking en masse seems like to diffuse a project to really take off separate from the main user habits; on the level of a vertical community, it starts to make much more sense.

Is the notion that we're sharing and rating only *links* ("about anything," with "anyone") not too lame for words? A radical shrinking of the broader promise of real networks for file sharing and tight-knit online community activity that started with BBS's and continues all the way through Gnutella et al. today? With something like Digg, where's the exclusivity? The reciprocity? The free software you share with friends, until the cops bust you? So as one observer said, Digg is mostly like a game, when you get down to it. I'd suggest, a pretty boring one.

Do not Digg this post. Do not collect $200,000,000.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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