Thursday, September 27, 2007

Web 2.0 v. laziness

Seth Porges at CrunchGear is arguing that the Web 2.0 “bubble” is going to burst when people get too lazy to continue to supply the sweet, sweet collective intelligence it needs to survive. As Porges points out, “without your neighbor/classmate/sister/girlfriend’s tireless devotion to keeping her profile up-to-date, MySpace would merely be a place for FOX to promote its properties.”

This is an interesting argument, but I’m not sure the examples Porges gives are all that convincing. The test case is Porges’s own migration through the social networking sites: Friendster used to be cool, but soon after joining up, Porges ignored his account there and moved over to MySpace. Then, when he grew too old for the highschool-yearbook vibe at MySpace, he moved over to Facebook, the country club of social networking. According to him, this same wanderlust and ennui is going to hit Digg and Wikipedia soon, causing them to fold.

This may be all well and good for Porges, but it doesn’t seem to fit the facts. As of this post, MySpace is ranked 6th in internet traffic. Additionally, Wikipeida just added its 2,000,000th English article. While I think the argument might apply to social networking sites—they depend on a critical mass of users, and if that mass moves somewhere else, they fold—it doesn’t appear to be affecting MySpace; both it and Facebook are continuing to grow. Further, and more importantly, what people do on Wikipedia and Digg is extremely different from what they do on MySpace and Facebook. I’m not sure that even a competing internet encyclopedia would cause users to leave Wikipedia. Porges himself points out that social networking sites appeal to different crowds—even Friendster is seeing a resurgance in Asia. If a competing encyclopeida emerged, it would likely have a completely different user base and produce a different kind of product. In short, I don’t buy Porges’s argument. Laziness isn’t going to bring down Web 2.0.

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