Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nerves, Copyright and the Web 2.0 Thing

It seems that some people are getting nervous about the "Web 2.0" thing:

"The dust is still settling after Google, a company that didn't exist nine years ago, spent $1.6-billion (U.S.) to buy YouTube, a company that didn't exist three years ago. I'm not a numbers guy, and yet even the casual observer can't help but notice that 1.6 billion is, in fact, a very large number, especially for a company that's been around for a very small number of years......Indeed, the YouTube deal has people chattering about whether we're entering a second great Internet bubble. Hopes are high that anyone with a half-baked idea can score some venture capital, entice a couple of million bored surfers to log in, become the flavour of the month, and hope that some media conglomerate suffering a bout of new-media insecurity will come knocking before the whole thing collapses." (Globe and Mail)

The author, Ivor Tossell, goes on to critique the Web 2.0 thing (I have begin to really dislike the title) as having "spawned an entirely entertaining cult of conformity". Strange, but I suppose if you are only paying attention to what makes the newspapers then yea it could look that way. Even Time magazine has done an article on "Web 2.0" and it was very grim. Time's advice was "AMASS AN AUDIENCE" if you want to make money on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. But if you do AMASS AN AUDIENCE....what makes it any different from the millions of websites (including Time) being watched already. Guys (and there seems to be so many men in this discussion) it is no longer about is about C-R-E-A-T-I-V-I-T-Y. "We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it." (Cluetrain Manifesto 1999)

Back to the bucks. I was also stunned by the price Google paid for YouTube, but what if they paid that price in order to enter into a more forceful dialogue around copyright law with the various bodies trying to prevent sharing of content on the internet (Patents Office, MPAA, IFPI and so on). Sharing of content is the lifeblood of Google; both as a search engine, and with their various archival services (Google Books, Google Scholar and so on). The only chance Google has at surviving the tsunami of IP litigation that could descend on them is to get very big very fast. Adding an extra million users to their database makes sense if you think about it as an attempt to increase the "critical mass" of the organization as a controller of market demongraphics. When he was asked why Google brought YouTube Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO, replied "Because we liked them." SURE. They need them.

No comments: