"Web 2.0" Study of the Week Finds Participation Weak, Which is Kind of Weak
Again with the studies and the misreading of the modern online media environment.
A Reuters story cites a study which declares that user interaction on “web 2.0″ sites “remains weak” and “is far less participatory than commonly assumed.” Stats to back up this claim include .16 percent of YouTube users upload video and .2 percent of Flickr users upload pictures. The study does however grant that somehow, “despite relatively low user involvement, visits to Web 2.0-style sites have spiked 688 percent in two years,” according to Bill Tancer from Hitwise.
This proclamation of weakness is, well, weak.
* First things first: web 2.0 = the Internet. There’s very little use in differentiating “web 2.0″ websites from the rest of the Internet. If you can leave comments, if you can upload media, if you can personalize a search function in any way, if you can set up a profile of some kind, you’re in web 2.0 land.
* They’re forgetting the 80-19-1 rule. I picked up on this rule from Jason Calacanis, and although it relates to social news sites like Digg and Netscape, I’ve found it very useful in framing the way in which online communities in general tend to operate. The first part states that 80 percent of an online community will never participate, and will be content simply to consume information or entertainment content.
* The 19 percent part is where the study (and its coverage) really misses the mark. According to Jason’s rule, 19% of a community will interact in some way, whether it be leaving comments, or perhaps taking part in voting or ranking on a social news site like Netscape.
What about the 900 million people who have a MySpace and/or Facebook and/or Bebo and/or some other social networking profile, you ask? Aren’t those good folk “participating” on “web 2.0″ sites by browsing profiles and friending and posting pictures and prancing and cavorting and flirting and so on?
The answer would be a big fat yes. Just because media uploads are concentrated into a relatively small group on YouTube and Flickr doesn’t mean that huge numbers of millions of people aren’t actively interacting with the Internet i.e “web 2.0″ sites.
* And what of the 1 percent, or the power users? Those uploading media on YouTube and submitting stories to Digg are the engines that keep those web platforms afloat. However, that the study doesn’t take into account the 19-percenters who comment and vote and rank and set up profiles on these sites is surprising.