20 August 2009

Web 2.0 the decline of content

In these days of web 2.0 and User Generated Content it's interesting to note that there is steady trend towards less and less material.

Back in the good ole days, say 5 years ago, if you wanted to put something on the web, you learnt HTML and made a personal website. It had numerous pages and lots of information. A good example is http://www.dougalearth.com/ the website for earth scientist and adventurer Dougal Jerram, which has news, info on his scientific work and a page on his quest to be a media celebrity.

Next came the rise of the blogs, such as the one you are reading now. A simpler structure, with just a single page that the user has to periodically update . Layers on layers of materially are laid down sequentially like a sedimentary succession, the stuff on the top gets worked over by the burrowing animals of the inetrnet while the stuff that's buried deep down ferments.

The next generation was facebook, myspace etc. Even easier to maintain than a website or blog, primarily because they don't involve any effort such as actually writing anything. You just update your status, comment on your friends and load the occasional picture. This is fine and a nice way to keep in touch with friends you don't see very often however it's all interspersed with thinly veiled psychological profiling such as "which star wars character are you? These provide large volumes of marketing info about you that the owners of the site can then sell on. Maybe I'm cynical but I find it all a bit scary. Some Grey Bloke has a fantastic insight into Facebook here.

The most recent stage in the reduction of content is twitter. Here the entire user generated content has been cut to 140 characters. Given that a "twitter" is defined as "a short burst of inconsequential information" it is hardly surprising that in a recent survey of 2000 tweets, 'pointless babble' accounted for 40.55%.

So what is the future? I think I need to develop a site where users just post a single word or maybe a picture and then you just contact the advertisers directly yourself and tell them what you want shoved down your throat.

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