What Kevin Kelly said: (Note: I’m still not blogging this weekend, I just happened to finally getting around to reading something in a magazine that, fortunately, is also online, and couldn’t help myself.) In a must-read Wired Magazine article, “We Are the Web,” Kevin Kelly displays how to make a profound argument stick, not by focusing on the rules and rants about who can and cannot blog, but by providing insight into the beauty of what has taken place over the past ten years — and, in turn, making us realize that the next ten could take us places the rule-makers (be they bloggers or old-media types) are the last to envision.:
What we all failed to see was how much of this new world would be manufactured by users, not corporate interests. Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site’s long-tail selection usable. Owners of Adobe, Apple, and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum Web pages, serving as high-quality customer support for new buyers. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organizing intelligence for a new economy. This bottom-up takeover was not in anyone’s 10-year vision.
No Web phenomenon is more confounding than blogging. Everything media experts knew about audiences – and they knew a lot – confirmed the focus group belief that audiences would never get off their butts and start making their own entertainment. Everyone knew writing and reading were dead; music was too much trouble to make when you could sit back and listen; video production was simply out of reach of amateurs. Blogs and other participant media would never happen, or if they happened they would not draw an audience, or if they drew an audience they would not matter. What a shock, then, to witness the near-instantaneous rise of 50 million blogs, with a new one appearing every two seconds. There – another new blog! One more person doing what AOL and ABC – and almost everyone else – expected only AOL and ABC to be doing. These user-created channels make no sense economically. Where are the time, energy, and resources coming from?
Update: Fortune writer David Kirkpatrick pokes around the same topic and calls it “the contribution economy” (book with same title to be pitched later, no doubt).
“Who would have thought that your customers would work as volunteers on behalf of your company?” asks Scott Cook, founder and chairman of software firm Intuit. The trend, which Intuit calls “user contribution systems,” helps the company constantly improve the quality of its products, he says.