Conflicting views on Web 2.0 (Part II)

With reference to my recent post on Web 2.0 sites catering to non-generating content 'viewers' rather than uploading 'contributors', here's more on the debate.

Since the media starting emphasizing the low percentages of 'participants' who actually create and upload content to sites like YouTube, Flickr, and even Wikipedia, the phenomenon has been portrayed as some kind of failure of the socialized web initiative. As I mentioned earlier, this neglects several important factors. Firstly, the Internet, like many things, is characterized by a user participation which necessitates only a few content 'producers', because it is the viewing of this content which promotes further production. Secondly, and I think more importantly, media commentators neglect that Web 2.0 sites still work along the same premises as other sites always have: get as many viewers as possible, then advertise to them. Whether that advertising is third-party or not is besides the point. The intention on the part of those who upload videos is to have their material seen. Some content-generating users are also 'viewers' (and vice versa), but that does not have to be the case to have a significant 'social' presence on these sites. None of the weak percentage rates given to UGC (such as 'only 1% of users contribute to YouTube video content') seem to emphasize the participatory social nature of the comments that users leave based on videos they watch, the ratings they give them, the feeds they subscribe to, how many times they email or link to them, or other elements of facilitating, and contributing to, the prolonged existence of the site. These websites remain popular regardless of the number of unique content producers. Many people probably feel they do not have the technical knowledge, time, inclination or patience to put videos on the web.

It should also not be surprising that, as people spend more time sitting in front of their computers, the machines will take the place of the old magic box, the television, which is relegated to that archaic location: the 'family' room. Yes, it used to be called that for a reason.

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