October 12, 2006

giving vs taking


I was in the pub the other evening, trying to explain the difference between Web 1.0 ["Dotcom"] vs Web 2.0 ["Blogs & Social Media"] to a web neophyte friend of mine.

The short answer: "Dotcom was about 'taking'. Web 2.0 is about 'giving'."

Dotcom basically built glorified Yellow Pages. You go, you get the info you need, hopefully you buy something en route. The relationship between the user and the website is impersonal, not unlike the realtionship between the Yellow Pages and its readers. They show, you select. They give, you take.

The architecture of Web 2.0, however, is about people giving away their stuff i.e. "sharing". Whether its a well-written blog post, or photos uploaded onto Flickr, or videos uploaded onto YouTube, the act of you giving is every bit as important as people other people receiving. This is why the number of blog readers isn't that much larger than the number of blog writers. Writing is as important as reading. Giving is as important as taking.

Suddenly for the first time in history, the world's most powerful form of media is about giving, not taking. The implications are vast.

This explains why Madison Avenue has had such a hard time getting their heads around blogs. Their culture, evolved during an era of television, radio and newspapers, is all about THEM giving, and nobody else doing so i.e. producing a one-way information exchange, aka broadcasting. People ['The Consumers"!] are only invited to "take". They're not interested in the reader being able to give back. "Giving" is only allowed by a bunch of pre-selected professionals, who are on their payroll, beholden to their rules, who they deem worthy to stay on message. Amateurs need not apply.

Giving vs. Taking. Exactly.

Posted by hugh macleod at October 12, 2006 4:19 PM | TrackBack

KKK escapee?

Posted by: robert at October 12, 2006 4:56 PM


Posted by: SiteBuilder at October 12, 2006 6:25 PM

domineeringly scary! thus spoke churchpundit!

Posted by: churchpundit at October 12, 2006 7:43 PM

Me like. Dunno why, but there`s something in the encpsulation of your normal format in a walking body that smacks of *discontinuous change in your psyche.* It gets up and walks.

Like life. Like Wine. Like Suits.

Oooh. Rorschach Cartoon. Projection of self...

Posted by: Hamish at October 12, 2006 8:01 PM

neat departure dude

Posted by: Frank at October 13, 2006 8:13 AM

Well, the ultimate matter remains the same: collecting behavior data. There's only a collection method shift between the two eras. The pull vs push debate...

In web 2.0 people are induced into giving them away under the pretence of "virtual sharing" to remedy their real life solitude.
In web 2.0 the next Madison Av pundits wear a mask and have learned the art of camouflage, that's all.

Nothing new under the sun. The collection of tolls of any sort on communication paths, be it dirt tacks, paved roads or virtual highways, is probably older than man itself. After all, predators always wait for herds of preys on their way to the water, isn't it ?

Posted by: Jean-Louis Seguineau at October 13, 2006 8:41 AM

Not sure if I agree, Jean-Louise. Your argument assumes that Madison Avenue is in control of the situation, that they actually know what they're doing in this space.

So far I don't see it. So far I just see cluelessness and incompetence.

Posted by: Hugh MacLeod at October 13, 2006 8:55 AM

Could it also be about companies "giving" their cash while "taking" outlandish gambles on imposing their old business models on a new paradigm?

Posted by: John Dodds at October 13, 2006 9:02 AM

[New Secret Theory: John Dodds is incapable of writing a sentence that doesn't end in a question mark.]


Posted by: Hugh MacLeod at October 13, 2006 9:30 AM

Is that true?

Posted by: John Dodds at October 13, 2006 9:40 AM


And, speaking of blogs did you know that your friend Sarah Blow just started an additional wonderful new blog... Girly Geeks...

Posted by: Sheamus at October 13, 2006 12:03 PM

Bubble 1.0 was about getting suckers to pay large sums for the prospect of a small improvement.

Bubble 2.0 is about getting suckers to work for free so a few Big Heads can make large sums off the aggregated unpaid labor.

In Bubble 1.0, the sucker had to be conned as to how much an improvement would be worth, in order to pay too much. In Bubble 2.0, the sucker has to be conned that working for free is "giving".

In other words, *you* "give", *they* "get".

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 13, 2006 2:01 PM

Seth, anyone who subscribes to such a simplisitic view of Web 2.0 as the one you just described will probably fail in this space.

And while they fail, other people succeed. Life goes on.

Posted by: Hugh MacLeod at October 13, 2006 2:26 PM

It is possible that what you say is both:

1) Completely correct


2) Not a refutation

Indeed, the phrasing tends to rather confirm both points (probably not what you intended, but still the implication).

As in: "Amway is a multi-level-marketing pyramid scheme where a few top distributors rip off everyone else"
"Anyone who subscribes to such a simplisitic view of Amway won't be an Amway success story, and others will" (true, but actually confirmatory of the original!).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 13, 2006 3:33 PM

Seth, if it were half the pyramid scheme you say it is, you would not still be blogging. Unless you were a fool.

So why are you?

Posted by: Hugh MacLeod at October 13, 2006 3:49 PM

In both cases (Web 1&2) canny bastards made a lot of money by selling finest silks to emperors.

The illusion here is people thinking it's possible to buy idyllic desert islands (quietly fertilised and cultivated in the preceding years to provide abundant flora and fauna), build hotels upon them and get stinking rich by soaking the tourists. Nature does the hard work developing the flora and fauna, but it's not free energy to be harnessed.

The more you try to exploit the imagined benefits of owning a natural ecosystem, the more you realise you own nothing except title.

A lot of people will make a lot of money selling desert islands to developers who build hotels on them and then sell them to rich mugs who think they will remain unspoilt by exploitation.

And then web 2.0 crashes when people finally realise the public domain isn't the free energy source it appears to be and cannot be appropriated for sale (despite what the smallprint says).

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at October 13, 2006 4:16 PM

I discuss that in detail in my post connecting to The Great Unread.

If you wanted to gloss that as "You're a fool", it's harsh in terms of social conjugation ("I'm full-bodied, you're hefty, he's fat"), but arguably factually accurate.

One of the ways marketing operates is that people don't like to admit, even to themselves, that they can be emotionally manipulated and deceived ("Maybe other people can be conned, but not me!"). Same way people like to think they're above average even when some must be wrong about that.

I think it's healthier to recognize one's flaws, even if one succumbs to them, than to pretend it's really virtue.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 13, 2006 4:22 PM

Web 2.0... the latest target of "Victim Culture". What's next, Seth? Appearances on Oprah?

I agree with Crosbie in one sense... there will be both good and bad investments in the Web 2.0 space... although when I think of "Web 2.0", I think more about me and my friends blogging, rather than the myriad of companies trying to make money from it.

Meanwhile, I continue to find Seth's ideas on this topic patronizing and intellectually dishonest....

Posted by: Hugh MacLeod at October 13, 2006 5:03 PM

Who gives a fuck anyway? I blog, you blog, we all blog together. Some get fat. Good luck to them. So what? I get my pound of flesh by way of immense enjoyment of interacting with an audience, the thrill of growing the blog and reading fine overintellectualising about a topic far too few give a toss about to make a difference to the majority. We all get ripped off one way or the other in mainstream life and on the web. Tough titty and boo-frigging-hoo.

I'm happy. Millions of others are too. Let's move on and blog some more. Enlightenment will hopefully grace us all one day. Until then WTF!

Posted by: Robert at October 13, 2006 7:07 PM

I have a good old friend who said I should be aware of people using me on the internet. I think he says this because he sees the burnt toast syndrome in me.

So help me out blogger heroes:

dot.com was about the media and message becoming user friendly


web two.O! is about users getting used?

Or is my toast burnt because my toaster isn't UL listed?

Posted by: nancy at October 13, 2006 11:25 PM

They were/are both about overvaluations of eyeballs.

The public aren't actually being exploited, though plenty of snake oil salesmen will try to present them as a free energy source to be exploited at will.

Public works belong to the public. You cannot violate that fundamental law of webdynamics.

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at October 14, 2006 11:34 AM

isn't it interesting then, that a lot of companies is making a living on the web ( my experience is with viral companies) in the dotcom way ( buying traffic and placement etc?)
and they are really hyped by the media nowadays -

my point is, that even though web 2.0 is happening, sometime it seems like

A: companies are aware of it
B: they don't really give a damn
C: they still have the good old procedures...

Businesses hasn't changed much around here from my pov... even though they are viral and hyped and employing bloggers..

just my 2 cents *s*


Posted by: henriette weber andersen at October 14, 2006 8:15 PM

I have a friend who's a funny 1. I want to be funny 2.0


Didja see your Squidoo?

Posted by: Marti at October 16, 2006 5:44 PM

I read this description of the difference between Dotcom and Web 2.0, which was originally thought of by an IBM guy called James Snell. It's probably too geeky for most neophytes, but it says it more concisely than anything else I've seen. (newline for dramatic effect)

chmod 777 web

Posted by: Paul Jardine at October 17, 2006 5:16 AM


I have a friend name marty with why. He is too funny. oH no I feel ho HO. Ho. hO double trouble.

Posted by: nancy at October 17, 2006 10:29 PM

maybe the number of blog writers is similar to blog readers because no one is reading most of the blogs.

Posted by: Nate at October 18, 2006 5:30 AM

but what's the sense in "giving" if no one's "taking"?

my guess:
90% of the time = mental masturbation

Posted by: mktg4nerds at October 23, 2006 12:22 PM

http://efioricet.org >Fioricet - is most usable tabblets... Do you know this?

Posted by: RoniF at December 23, 2006 12:08 PM

That's a profound and accurate observation.

When I read why you decided not to charge for your "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards", it made perfect sense based upon the inevitable direction creative works on the internet have been going.

People are stealing others work as if they have the right to it because it is so easily accessable to make use of.

Marketing tools aside, I'm of the opinion that goodwill and giving freely what one can give artistically will make this period of societial change less painful and more profitable in non-monetary ways for the giver until the supply and demand issues become balanced toward exchange from the taker.
Now that I've put you to sleep...., I hope you'll keep your blog running for years to come because it definately is a well done and classic site. Visiting it has convinced me to try a bottle of some of that wine you've invested in.

Posted by: formerlyfooled at February 1, 2007 4:31 AM