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.

  • Ethan

    No wonder Yahoo is…well, Yahoo.

  • Right of Center

    And the “login” screen of the NY Times article proves they still don’t get it.

  • Angelos

    CLASSIC big corp statement out of Yahoo.
    And the funny thing is, Yahoo started as… drum-roll please… user-created content! Two geeks, cataloging the stuff they found.
    Also, didn’t Yahoo just shut down user-created chatrooms to minimize risk of exposure to pedophile rings, etc.? So now the only chatrooms available are Yahoo-created?

  • Old Grouch

    No corporate peon doing work-for-hire will ever equal the product of an obsessive-compulsive doing it for love :-).
    Cheap (or free-with-your-internet-service) personal-page hosting was the best thing that ever happened to the www.

  • I usually agree with your ideas but as a web developer I have to say that the tools and standards now emerging (AJAX)ease the development of these entertaining web nuggegts so you don’t have to be a nerd to create anymore. Blogs are a case in point, the web existed long before blogs. The same is happening now with interactive web software. You don’t need a software degree and corporate overlord to create anymore.
    The following little app was created by a guy in Russia and was #2 on blogdex yesterday.

  • Kirk, that was fun. My kids loved it. Thanks : )

  • I agree with KrikH. The web might have always been “about” creation & sharing of content, but until recently it was very difficult for the average person to simply walk up to a computer and make it happen.

  • jeff weiner

    Iíve enjoyed reading your thoughts through links from Battelle and others for awhile now. Just finished your latest and wanted to chime in on the context of my remarks on sharing in the nyt piece.
    The reference you cited, that sharing will be the next chapter in the internetís development, was made specifically in the context of what we believe is a three phase evolution taking place with regard to the composition of web search indices, namely:
    Phase I: the public web, i.e., the 8B-12B documents available to all of us today in publicly available web search indices
    Phase II: the personal web, i.e., the documents, images, files and other objects now made more easily accessible and manageable through applications such as desktop search and saved search / search history tools
    Phase III: the social web, i.e., the integration of public and personal information and content repositories made more easily accessible to trusted contacts in the appropriate context
    It was thinking through the implications of the third phase that was behind much of the development of my web 2.0 ñ a social search engine that enables people to explicitly search the expertise and knowledge of the people they trust.
    Not sure if youíve had a chance to read our blog entry on the subject, but given your comments, thought you might find it interesting:
    Hope that helps clarify a bit.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Jeff, just to quibble a bit as someone who was there for most of this history, the Internet is there to facilitate data transmission in failure-prone networks — in fact, networks in which single nodes have the potential of suddenly becoming large glowing holes — composed of many different computers and transmission mechanisms.
    What’s you’re talking abut is the World Wide Web, which builds a network of shared content on top of the Internet.
    What you’re saying is like saying that asphalt is there because Eisenhower built an interstate highway system.

  • button

    Don’t forget the Big Media already had to learn to cope with the phenomenon of ‘fan fiction.’
    But they did. And they survived.

  • We can analyze the web and disect it into phases to suit our purposes as much as we like, but essentially, what it comes down to is sharing and more sharing. I wish Yahoo well with their ‘Social Web’ idea though it sounds to me like enhanced search or a deriviative of online marketplaces, hardly a new concept.
    Still, if they get it off the ground, I’d probably take a look. I suspect it would be a sort of AOL gated-community type model which probably wouldn’t appeal too much. I like the freedom of searching for and sharing information via trusted independent blogs without having to go through a third party to do it.

  • Yahoo is not offering anything that we (bloggers) cannot do already using tags to find/discover ideas/info on technorati and I’ve developed an enterprise social software app – Ideascape – for businesses based almost entirely on open source software that I practically give away. My point is, we do not need the yahoo’s, times, et al to filter information.