I missed the first two days of the Web 2.0 Expo (created because the Web 2.0 Summit proved so popular), so I can’t make any general observations other than this one: It’s a shame that there was no interaction between the speakers and the "former" audience in the main hall. Unlike the preceding Web 2.0 summits, not a microphone to be had.
I always love the State of the Blogosphere updates we get from Technorati founder/CEO Dave Sifry. This year he offered a different twist and was paired with Hitwise head of research Bill Tancer.
The twist was that it’s too limiting to describe this explosion of user-created media as "the blogosphere." We’ve seen an explosive growth in videos, photos, podcasts and other materials. So Dave now calls it "the Live Web" (a term borrowed from Technorati board member Doc Searls) or "the next-generation web." Tancer called it "the participatory Web, or Web 2.0."
Sure thing, guys. Or, how about the Social Web? :~) Live Web doesn’t mean much, other than no apparitions posting here. Social at least imparts a theme of interactivity and conversation.
Tancer cited an astonishing 668% growth for the top participatory web sties from April 2005 — when 2% of U.S. Internet visits went to these sites — to today’s figure of 12%, measured just last week. We’re talking about sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr, Ourmedia, where users create the content.
Two years ago, Wikipedia was more popular than Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia site by a factor of about 3 to 1. Today, visits to Wikipedia outnumber Encarta visits 3,400 to 1.
In the photo-sharing category, 56% of visits to photo sites go to participatory photo sites. Photobucket rules the roost with a 41% market share, Slide has 5% (it does??), Flickr has 4%, Imageshack 3%, Rock you! 3%, and the remaining 44% is divided among the also-runs. It always amazes me when I see these numbers: I’m a Flickr fanatic, and I can’t understand how 10 times as many people use Photobucket instead. (Oh, yeah, OK. MySpace. Baaaa-baaaa!)
Participants vs. consumers: The 1-9-90 rule
The most fascinating numbers to come out of the conference came when Tancer and Sifry said it was time to cast aside the 80-20 rule in favor of a new paradigm. The 80-20 rule states — well, let Wikipedia tell it: "for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes." Or, in practical Web 2.0 terms: eight out of 10 visitors to a Website will be passive consumers, while 20 percent are generally hands-on creators and producers.
Said Tancer: "It’s not the 80-20 rule anymore. It’s 1-9-90." Spread across the Web, generally 1 percent of visitors are creators and producers, 9 percent are "highly involved participators" (don’t ask me why the word "participants" isn’t good enough), and 90 percent are consumers or viewers.
This played out in a Hitwise study of visits to three popular sites:
At YouTube, only 0.16% of visits were related to uploading a video during the course of the study. At Flickr, only 0.2% of visits were related to uploading photos. The percentage was markedly higher at Wikipedia, where 4.59% of visits were related to editing articles on the site.
And while the popular perception is that this is a youth-driven phenomenon, not so. Younger people were doing most of the viewing and older people were doing most of the creating. At Wikipedia, it broke down like this:
• 4.6% of 18- to 24-year-olds edit the site;
• 13.5% of ages 25-34;
• 27.3% of ages 35-44;
• 54.6%, age 45 plus (combined the last 2 categories because they were up so briefly)
A similar trend emerges at YouTube:
• A shockingly low 1.9% of 18- to 24-year-olds upload videos to the video sharing site, compared with 24.1% of ages 25-34 and 35.6% of ages 35-44 (again, don’t have the full stats).
The 25- to 55-year-old age groups do the heavy lifting.
When it comes to viewers on YouTube, it breaks down 51% male vs. 49% female among viewers, but 60% male to 40% female among participants. The gender gap is even more pronounced at Wikipedia: 52% male vs. 48% female among readers, but 76% male vs. 24% female among participants who dive in and edit the site. (The strong-willed women readers/participants of the Social Media blog are exceptions to this general rule, of course.)
More Sifry: 37% of all the 72 million blogs that Technorati tracks are in japanese; 33% are in English. A fast-growing segment: Farsi (at 1%), the language of bloggers in Iran. More than 237 million items have been tagged by the creators. About 37% of users are using tags, or keywords. More than 125,000 posts appear each day.
Some notable quotes and insights from Google CEO/billionaire/good guy Eric Schmidt (that’s one of the photos I shot of him above):
He told an amusing story about how the Australian Broadcasting Company supposedly sent a takedown notice under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Google, which promptly took down the company’s videos from Youtube last Friday. By Monday it was discovered that the takedown notice was actually sent by a 16-year-old Australian teenager. The videos were put back up.
Schmidt said Google would soon release a new tool called Claim Your Content, allowing the copyright owner to monitor videos appearing on the YouTube site and automating the takedown process. No audience questions were allowed, so I couldn’t ask if that technology would be made available to other video hosting sites.
"Network neutrality is very important for the next generation of enterpreneurs. They’re going to need a network that connects everyone. It’ll be an enormous setback if we lose that."
"The biggest growth areas are going to be in the mobile space. Mobile, mobile mobile. People treat their mobile phones as extensions of their persons. … The next generation of 3G and 4G networks will have tremendous power."
What does he think about what he wakes up each day? "The thing i think about at google is scaling. In order to win in the Internet, you have to have a scaling strategy. So I’m constantly thinking about more data centers [which he referred to a couple of times as "super-computers"), more fiber optics, more people. It's amazing to think how early we are in that process. We're just at the beginning of getting information that's been kept in small networks or privae networks onto these platforms."
And, last but not least, he flat out pledged Google's commitment to data portability -- the ability for users to take their data (search history, etc.) to another service if they're not happy with their experience at Google.
"We are committed to user portablity. we'll never trap user data. We want you to be able to take the information [collected by] Google and go somewhere else."
That’s a customer-centric promise we’ll be happy to hold them to.