With the explosion of Web 2.0, web applications are increasingly becoming data driven. Examples for this include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Youtube and the list goes on. During earlier times, the focus had always been on the application itself – providing features. The introduction of Web 2.0 has really brought about a paradigm shift on the Internet.
Creating a unique source of data that is hard to replicate has become a very important strategy for application developers. It has finally been realised that the data submitted by users is much more important than the application itself. This ties into my earlier post about Collective Intelligence – how everyones collected knowledge is worth so much.
Other aspects of CI – such as having feedback mechanisms like reviews, comments & ratings are all ways in which web application developers can increase their “data wealth” on their website.
In the end, it all boils down to the same type of questions which all basically say ‘what about the data is so important’? Well, it depends on what type of data is being gathered. Sometimes, the data benefits the application and thus in turn, the company. One particular example of this is Google Earth. Users are able to upload their own data such as information about landmarks and even photographs into Google Earth’s database, and this is integrated into the Google Earth user interface for easy access.
Other examples such as Facebook And Twitter are harder to speculate on. The nature of data they are collecting is quite personal. There are undoubtedly 3rd parties out there “in the wild” who would benefit in some way or form from having access to this data, such as companies wanting to promote their products and services through targeted advertisements. Even though the data may not identify any particular person by name, it is still accurate enough to include them and others in a group of ‘targets’ for advertising. Of course, Facebook wouldn’t just hand this information out for free.. they too would profit from YOUR data.. YOUR inputs into the website.
So next time you are posting something on your favourite social networking site, remember it is worth a lot more than face value.
Also, I wonder what people’s thoughts are regarding what end users actually get in return for providing more feedback and hence more value to the web applications in question. Or are we simply putting them on a pedestal. Should we be providing such “services” for free? Or should WE be getting remunerated for our input into making those applications the success that they otherwise might not have been?