Who Owns The Wisdom Of The Crowd?

Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, LastFM, iTunes, CraigsList, Wikipedia, Skype, these highly successful companies all share one thing in common; they all rely on the contributions of their users in order to be successful. In the article, Who Owns the Wisdom of the Crowd? Jeff Jarvis discusses some important points regarding the value of such internet based companies, and how such companies hold on to their power within the internet realm.

Take MySpace for example, what is it about this social network that made it so successful and what caused it to fail just as quickly as it began? MySpace started out so strongly because (and Jarvis would agree) it gave users the freedom and control to do what they wanted. Users were able to customize their pages, post status’ as they pleased, connect with friends, share photo’s and videos, etc.. As more people contributed to the site the value of MySpace increased while their social network grew larger.

Jarvis brings up an important point however, “the crowd” will continue to use a site as long as a few rules are met:

1. We all want to control our contributions.

2. We all want the community to benefit if we in turn benefit.

3. We expect mutual trust in the forms of transparency and honesty.

4. And we all — individual, collective, enabler — find uncivil behavior (spam, fraud, hate) unacceptable.

In my opinion, rule number four is precisely where MySpace went wrong. Once the site became as popular as it did the value of it went through the roof. Consequently, as spam, fraudulent pages, and cyber bullying began to rise, the value of the site plummeted just as quickly as it started. Simply because “the crowd” no longer wanted to contribute to a site in which Jarvis’ rules were no longer being met.

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