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 YouTube's actual future is far from certain, and Second Life will surely be passed by another player, as it superceded The Sims, which superceded a lot of MUDDs and the like.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."

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.