July 26th, 2006

The Users Will Decided Who Gets Their Content

by

Jason Calacanis of Netscape and Kevin Rose of Digg are out again debating who will win the batter over power users who drive the majority of the value on “community”-driven news sites like Digg and Netscape. Ken says user will are motivated by “free, democratic social” ideals. Jason says users deserve to get a piece of the economic action. A lot of other people have weighed in with their opinions one way or the other.

But you know what? Their opinions DON’T MATTER! None of them gets to decide who social media users will give their time, attention, and content to.

Even Mark Glaser, with his sober and considered analysis of the issue, doesn’t get to decide.

So who does?

THE USERS!!!

Everyone runs around talking about how the users are in control — and then we think we can dictate what the users will do.

The users will decide whether they will do it for love or money.

I think ultimately they will do it for both. They will go where they get the best apps and the best fit with a community. But when they wake up to the fact that people like Kevin Rose are making millions off of their effort, they will demand a piece of the action or go elsewhere.

Users may be passionate, but they are not stupid.

It’s not just attention and content creation that will be democratized by Web 2.0/social media — economic gain will also be shared.

Those who don’t see that are still living in an old-school, 1.0, hierarchical world — either that, or they are being blinded by ideology.

So that’s my view — which really doesn’t matter either.

  • Isn't the ultimate expression of the ideas behind "Web 2.0" that no one will be a millionaire, instead everyone will take their own very small slice of the pie? Once there is a system in place for users to benefit from the content they create, the middlemen will be cut out.

    This is already happening in some areas. Ebay, istockphoto, blogs. Find a way for all the individuals to make the money, and they'll massively disrupt the system. The only ones making the big bucks are the ones building the systems that let everyone make money, and eventually that too might be distributed.

  • This will be fascinating to watch play out.

    If Netscape is able to poach some top users, and Digg suffers because of it, and Netscape gets some traction - the impact will be felt around the industry.

    Then there really will be a reason for all of these user generated content sites to take VC money.

  • This whole Digg-based journalism thing's had me peeved for awhile...for two reasons.

    The First is that Digg is a service for a very small niche group of people who are really into the internet and into tech (see the Pew results for just how small this group is.) What made Netscape think the rest of the world is that much into the 'net as most Digg'ers are? Seriously....

    Second, what demographic constitutes this "few"? Probably mostly young males--who, for some reason, seem to have more time for this sort of thing than young females (socializing/communicating patterns are different--may be just as many women as men blogging and social networking, but are they doing it about news or about their lives? Probably more of the latter than the former. Not to mention the paucity of women in tech anyway.)

    So, what may end up happening is a group of young smarty-pants guys deciding what today's headlines.

    Is that going to be any better than a bunch of old curmudgeonly guys deciding today's headlines?

    The money may be an allure for a short while, but over the long haul the decision to keep the experiment going will reside with the Board more than the Users.

    Guess it depends on who you ask.

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