Harry McCracken has a thought-provoking post that lists what were, ten years ago, “the top 15 web properties (ie, networks of related sites) as measured by Media Metrix”.
Specifically, the thoughts Harry’s post should be provoking are these:
1. Why are almost all of those web properties no longer around?
2. When those of us who debate the future of media argue over whether or not print is dying, is that really what the debate is about? Shouldn’t the debate be over what is today vs. what is tomorrow?
3. What will come after the things we are obsessed about today?
4. What will happen to all that personal data and content we are cramming on to today’s top web services. When one of them goes away, do we, for instance, lose a few years of of our < 140 character steam of consciousness thoughts?
5. Were we ever so dumb as to make those sites the most visited sites on the web?
Considering today’s economy, perhaps it would be more insightful to look at the impact of the dot.com crash. Frankly, 1999 was sort of like the web’s disco period — something we look back and say, “What were we thinking?”
Many of these sites went public and then went out of business when their values fell to nothing. Perhaps it would be more interesting to look at comparison stats related to companies that have become popular after, say, 2002. Those companies haven’t all had access to the mountains of cash that helped cook the 1999 Media Metrix numbers. Perhaps there are dynamics at work for post dot.com crash web successes that were not around in 1999, when novelty and crazy money ruled the day.
Or maybe this is just Disco 2.0.