Internet re-organising around people

Social network graphic

I have written before about the internet re-organisng around people – and I even said a few words on the subject at an Internet People event in London last night.  (Great event btw – in his own inimitable fashion founder Robert Loch is really driving the London internet scene forward with this community – if you haven’t been to an event you have definitely missed out, aside from the fun and frolics Robert has also played an important part in a number of notable consumer internet VC deals, including our own WAYN and now I hear Zubka).

Back to the topic du jour – the internet started as a collection of sites – i.e. it was organised around content.  There is a very clear trend to s re-organisation around people.  There are a number of components of this meta-trend:

  1. Atomisation of content allows people to build their own internet with just the components they want – the old bundles (sites) are deconstructed and re-assembled by individuals.  Personal home pages like Netvibes are a great example of this, as are widgets on blogs and desktops.
  2. Social networks – by Alexa MySpace is now the 6th most visited site in the world and it is a collection of personal pages – again people are the loci of organisation
  3. Personal playlists for music and video – traditional bundles put together by bands (albums) and media companies (TV channels and radio stations) are being torn apart as people head straight for the tracks and shows they want and assemble their own bundles based on what they like (this is a bit like the atomisation of written content covered in point one)
  4. Reviews and recommendations are increasingly important on the web and they put people at the heart of purchasing decisions – the trend here is to include more information about the reviewer/recommender (more of this in a later post)

I guess what I am describing here is partly the general shift from mass production to mass personalisation playing out in media, but that doesn’t do it full justice.  There is something bigger going on as well.  I think that people are turning to the web for a sense of identity and community.  Social networks and review sites are providing spaces for self expression and collective opinion formation.  These are basic human needs that used to be served in traditional communities but which are difficult in big cities and commuter towns.  Or is that just the sociologist in me?

  • Totally agree. What’s surprising to me is that these trends, which have really exploded in terms of the growth of communities to help organize one’s social lives, or purchasing decisions, have not yet seeped into the educational arena.

  • Totally agree. What’s surprising to me is that these trends, which have really exploded in terms of the growth of communities to help organize one’s social lives, or purchasing decisions, have not yet seeped into the educational arena.

  • A great post, really. My comment is mainly regarding your idea of how the internet is changing communities.

    It’s funny as I have recently moved into a new community, which is built in an area of regeneration. The people within this new comunity do not communicate with each other, at all, to the point where heads go down as soon as eye contact is about to be made when leaving the car park.

    One thing has finally started to bring people together….the internet. A very simple online forum was set-up by one resident to talk about issues of property maintenence mainly. This has spawned into a place where people are organising social meet-ups, buying/selling unwanted goods and general community banter amongst residents, most of whom have still not met each other face-face. Within 3 weeks the site has over 60 members, which is a high-proportion of total residents. It’s not quite a social network in the myspace sense, but not far from it.

  • A great post, really. My comment is mainly regarding your idea of how the internet is changing communities.

    It’s funny as I have recently moved into a new community, which is built in an area of regeneration. The people within this new comunity do not communicate with each other, at all, to the point where heads go down as soon as eye contact is about to be made when leaving the car park.

    One thing has finally started to bring people together….the internet. A very simple online forum was set-up by one resident to talk about issues of property maintenence mainly. This has spawned into a place where people are organising social meet-ups, buying/selling unwanted goods and general community banter amongst residents, most of whom have still not met each other face-face. Within 3 weeks the site has over 60 members, which is a high-proportion of total residents. It’s not quite a social network in the myspace sense, but not far from it.

  • Nisan Gabbay

    Hi Nic,

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I think the big catalyst for this change was digital cameras hitting critical mass and the plethora of photos now available to be shared. Images, not text, is what attracts people’s attention and forms the basis of community. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words!

    Nisan

  • Nisan Gabbay

    Hi Nic,

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I think the big catalyst for this change was digital cameras hitting critical mass and the plethora of photos now available to be shared. Images, not text, is what attracts people’s attention and forms the basis of community. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words!

    Nisan

  • nic

    Thanks guys. Some really great comments. I think I am going to copy yours into a full post mspoke.

  • nic

    Thanks guys. Some really great comments. I think I am going to copy yours into a full post mspoke.

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