Catching up

Catching up

: The web has always been about sharing and creation. It has always been the medium of the people, with big companies horning in. Now a bunch of big companies — with John Markoff reporting — are just catching up to this notion and they think it’s new. No, only their realization is new.

Indeed, the abundance of user-generated content – which includes online games, desktop video and citizen journalism sites – is reshaping the debate over file sharing. Many Internet industry executives think it poses a new kind of threat to Hollywood, the recording industry and other purveyors of proprietary content: not piracy of their work, but a compelling alternative.

The new services offer a bottom-up creative process that is shifting the flow of information away from a one-way broadcast or publishing model, giving rise to a wave of new business ventures and touching off a scramble by media and technology companies to respond.

“Sharing will be everywhere,” said Jeff Weiner, a Yahoo senior vice president in charge of the company’s search services. “It’s the next chapter of the World Wide Web.”

With all due respect, Jeff, that’s a load of Yahooie. Maybe that’s the next chapter for Yahoo but the internet from its very first day about about sharing links and content and conversation and ideas and about connecting people so they can share all that. Wake up and smell the web, man.

Hell, even AOL knew this. Three years ago, at Foursquare, I asked Jonathan Miller how much time his users spent on user-created content and he said 60-70 percent of the time. I use that slide in my blog-boy speech (available for hire -advt.) to say that the people value the content the people create. Only now are media learning to value it. Witness this very story.

Markoff goes on:

Many Internet developers think that the Internet’s new phase will shift power away from old-line media and software companies while rapidly bringing about an age of computerized “augmentation” by blending the skills of tens of thousands of individuals.

But what do you think Google is? It is the collected wisdom of millions of individuals. What do you think blogs are? Yup, the aggregated wisdom of millions more. Flickr, Technorati,, and other functional innovations are merely ways to further explore and enable that potential.

I’m glad the true essence of the internet is getting recognized. And at least it’s ahead of Marshall column, below.