In the middle of trying to compose a long post on some other subject but saw this on Ventureblog
today and had to comment. It's a long (but incomplete) list of Web 2.0 players that are out there today (check here
). It's fairly telling how low a barrier of entry there is in building a Web 2.0 focused business (especially when it comes to tagging). Obviously each of these companies can't have the 'growth' story behind them. Case example is 43Things.
I actually really like the concept, let people tag an experience/want/need and build a community around these common interests. But looking at their growth on Alexa
, pageviews peaked this January and have stalled since.
Tagging in general is a great thing and has driven interactivity to the online experience (consider Digg
. But I'm not convinced that the mass market is ready for actually tagging themselves (although they will leverage the data driven from it). A lot of early adopters in the user community have driven usage of tagging sites and their growth. But with increasing competition in the space (as evidenced in the list above), there's only so many early adopters around to drive the growth of these sites. The mass market isn't going to accept the concept of tagging for themselves (I can't imagine my mom, sister, father or many of my friends doing it no matter how much I evangelize its utility). There's a big free-rider problem here folks. Shouldn't be a surprise that the vast majority of these companies will ultimately cede to a few winners in each of the spaces. And those winners will be defined by how they convince the mass market to adopt their services (which will require a whole lot more than facilitating tagging alone)...
Then there are the folks who are gaming the system. Consider GoogleBase. A folksonomy based on user tagging at first sounds ideal. Let users manage their own attribution of their products, look at the most popular tags, and wala you have a product structure. But when I type "ipod nano" into GoogleBase, trying to actually find a real ipod is a bear. Define your search by 'Product', the list of "products" includes a lot of... well honestly... crap. Pick "MP3 player" and you get page after page of ipod nano accessories. Try the same for "Treo 650". Same difference. Again, I'm biased. But truth be told, I don't see folksonomy driving mass market appeal... yet.
The Web 2.0 movement will have tremendous impact on how the Internet is used. Of that there is no doubt. Will many of the companies that exist in this space today be part of that? (with an unwavering focus on user-generated content/tagging as the primary driver for viral growth) That seems more dubious...