Mink Machine

The ecosystem of Web 2.0

I held a presentation yesterday about Web 2.0, the technology involved and some of the social aspects of it. Fortunately, the most reoccurring question from the audience was how all this fit in with the real world. That is a perfectly valid question.

As developers we may sometimes be immersed in all this new cool technology, believing that the coolness in itself is good enough reason to use it. All fair and well, but the real world consists of people who may not even care one bit about technology – and their opinion is worth just as much.

It is very important to focus on applications and what we could build out of all this cool technology. That way we will all benefit from it.

Think of it this way: Out of the web population, perhaps one percent are creators. These are the people who actually come up with a cool idea and implement it. Then there are the producers, who add content to the ideas of the creators. The third and by far largest part of the web population are the consumers, who consume the material uploaded by the producers.

Ecosystem pyramid The ecosystem of Web 2.0.

In this etchy sketchy thing, the smallest triangle represent the creators, the second smallest the producers and the rest are the consumers. Note that the consumer area contains the other two groups as well, since they benefit from the consumers and probably are consumers themselves.

YouTube is an example of this kind of Web 2.0 site. Three guys develop a site in a few months during spring 2005. Then thousands of people started to add videos to the site, making it interesting to the consumers. One year after the initial launch, the site had almost 20 million visitors each month. Consumers were viewing 100 million clips every day, and the producers uploaded 65000 new videos every day!

As you can see, all three groups benefit from the whole. The creators need the producers to make the site successful, just as the producers (who often are consumers as well) need consumers to make it worthwhile. And of course the consumers will not visit the site without the effort put in by creators and producers.

This is reminiscent of an ecosystem in several ways. One of the most fascinating aspects of the the social web is the fact that no one is really in control. There’s no way to guess where it goes, once unleashed. Buckle up and sign in, we’re about embark into your future.

Update: The session was repeated for another audience one week later. Same question came up. I guess it’s really one of the burning issues at this phase.

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