Week One: The Viva La 2.0 Revolution: Consumer Enpowerment or Grand Mirage

In 2006, Time deemed the person of the year, you and for good reason. With the increasing amount of user-generated content, social networking presence and internet based communities,  individual platforms each boast huge audience figures; Facebook has in excess of 350 million globally active users, there are on average over 27.3 million tweets a day, and Wikipedia has in excess of 14m articles. (eConsultancy.com)

Below an embedded screenshot taken from BBC  Superpower aims to illustrate the continually evolving nature of the internet, but I implore you to observe in its original live form to gain a greater representation of the pace, and scope of the new internet generation, perfect for this blog post.

BBC SuperPower: Visualising the internet

A new era of the internet, industry experts, academics, advertisers & trend followers continue to refer to ‘web 2.0’ as the future of the internet. Without dwelling over the definition or the complexities of its history I  value McStay’s (2010) view of the 2.0 revolution simply as participatory web. A stark contrast to the information based days of ‘Web 1.0’, the revolution has ushered in the use of social networking, free content distribution platforms and community led initiatives. Just as web 1.0 saw popular internet activities revolve around the consumption based lifestyle empowering consumer purchase decisions; price comparison sites, review aggregators, customer forums etc. some academics  argue there has been a change or shift in consumer power as a result of Web 2.0 equally empowering the consumer, positioned as global content creators. (Kucuk & Krishnamurthy 2007; Smithers 2008).

User Generated Content as a result of web 2.0 particularly interested me as a user of social platforms, and advertising student. Fascinating statistics reveal YouTube distributes over 2 billion videos a day, where in 60 days more video content is uploaded than the 3 major US networks have created in the past 60 years (ViralBlog.com) while Facebook shares a staggering 3.5bn pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) each week (eConsultancy.com). These 2.0 services such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr etc. all practically provide an infinite amount of user content, and there are many more success stories but I pose the question;

Just because we can upload, should we?

Andrew Keen’s perspective on 2.0 is frank, but still  refreshing depicting the revolution of Web 2.0 as a illusionary concept, a seduction; “The future resting on digital fascism where the experts, the professional seek back the control of the tools.”

I agree with this view to an extent, and appreciate the many contributions social media has made to the global community but quick analysis of the aggressive social media ownership, sale & acquisition climate (Covered brilliantly by Mark Brooks) demonstrates the concept Keen discusses:

Google acquired YouTube & Blogspot, and developed Google Reader, Gmail & Buzz to further integrate it’s portfolio, cementing its position as market leader of free services. Other Silicon valley companies such as Yahoo are aggressively participating in similar activities, with its ownership of Flickr & Del.icio.us, or Aol’s acquisitions and further sale of the Bebo Youth platform. Broadcasters are also pushing for further control with CBS’s ownership of Last.Fm, GameSpot & MetaCritic or even NewsCorps infamous purchase & sale of MySpace, a poignant reminder of the dynamic and fickle nature of the 2.o landscape. Even technology  companies such as Apple & Microsoft are engaging in such activities with Apple’s acquisition of Lala, and launch of it’s Ping music service. All that can be said is nothing is certain, expect the constant flux.

Social Media Monopoly

The dynamic environment can likely be attributed to conglomerates desire to have a clear position within the 2.0 landscape and the inherent access to increasing amount of user data. Whether the user, who regular uploads, shares and distributes their original content via these platforms understands these privacy & financial implications, I am sure is varied but ultimately I feel when a user uploads their content, it remains their content. Sadly this isn’t always the case, the platforms all offer free distribution, bandwidth and storage at a price; advertising revenue & user data.

Although YouTube may have offered partnership schemes for musicians and filmmakers (SynapticLight,Wired.com) looking to monetize their videos views, the scheme was limited to America, and received minimal promotion. The scheme is rather the exception too,  currently the corporations have the upper hand with the distribution of user content. Interestingly these 2.0 services stretch distribution to ownership, I wonder how many bands, amateur film makers and photographers understand the ‘rights grab’ clause of Facebook’s now infamous Terms of Use:

“By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”

Does What Happen In The Facebook, Stay in The Facebook?

A provoking thought, corporations are increasingly offering free services to maximise user data & content to develop a sustainable advertising model. Although some may argue both parties are benefiting, I feel greater transparency and party aggreenace is needed in an environment where ‘crowd sourcing’ ‘wikis’ and collaborative content is the norm, and this is an essential before the consideration of web ‘3.0’ can be realistic.

Although currently open standards, individual ISP policies, government intervention are continually global new stories I personally feel that Web 3.0 is a long way off. Just as the dot.com failure can be attributed to a lack of technological innovation such as the high-speed ADSL connection (McStay 2010), 2.0 could potentially falter in future years not due to technological constraints but growing concerns of privacy, data mining & increasing consume savvy.

I end this post with a venn diagram summarising my final point, and something I wish to discuss in my future posts.

Dave Makes

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2 responses to “Week One: The Viva La 2.0 Revolution: Consumer Enpowerment or Grand Mirage

  1. Pingback: Week 7: Make the most of your keyboard warriors | 2.0 &Me – A Digital Diary

  2. Pingback: 2.0&Me – Are We Sacrificing our Privacy? | 2.0 &Me – A Digital Diary

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