Friday, August 10, 2007

Wikipedia and Web 2.0 Legitimization

Those interested can read the report but I’ll jump to the punch line that in America, 36 percent of Internet users regularly use Wikipedia and contrary to the naysayers, those consulting the online encyclopedia consist of highly educated adults and current university students. Wikipedia dominates online information research, receiving almost six times the traffic of the next closest site, Yahoo! Answers. In fact, Wikipedia is one of the most visited sites on the Internet, period, and the experienced Web 2.0 user can guess why: Google. Over half of the Wikipedia hits result from a Google search. Almost all searches on a particular topic return a Wiki post on the first page.

China’s growth of online activity is the highest in the world and will surpass the United States in two to three years. They try to censor Internet content, which I consider a losing battle. Special sites provide links allowing a browser to safely visit "banned" Web pages undetected. While the Chinese may have volume of users, the presence of their language in the blogosphere pales in comparison (at 8 percent) to the two languages now neck and neck, Japanese at 37 percent and English at 36 percent.

Web 2.0 presence must be earned. I am honored that some find this place worth reading. The blogosphere contains over 70 million blogs with over 120,000 created each day. Many are whimsical endeavors that quickly peter out or contain self-centered ramblings that generate no audience. Web 2.0 features the paradox of structure and chaos. The blogosphere has no rules, except of course, for all of the rules it has.

The legitimization of Web 2.0 proceeds and blogs continue to penetrate mainstream media consumption. Omnivores, connectors, and the Web 2.0 savvy quickly toss nonsense and locate worthwhile content. From Q3 2006 to Q4 2006, blog inclusion among the top 100 sites grew from 12 to 22. I highly encourage the reader to visit David Sifry's post on the April 2007 report on the blogosphere. Like all of Web 2.0, Wikipedia earns its traffic. For an embarrassing counterexample consider the boneheads behind Conservapedia. Imagine the stupidity and sheer ignorance of anyone who thinks omnivores and connectors will consult content "screened for safety" by conservative goons filtering material on evolution, global warming, abortion, homosexuality, science, religion, and so on. Do you know anyone that would spend time reading content massaged by Pat Robertson?

Implications expand profoundly and in all directions. For now, let’s consider politics. Anyone serious about running for any significant office must consider Web 2.0 influence on elections. I would speculate the highest Web priority is the result of a Google search on the candidate’s name. What shows up had better not be a porn site. What is the Wikipedia content for the candidate? Is it on the first page of a Google search? Then we have the candidate’s campaign site and (if incumbent) office site. As elections heat up, these sites will draw traffic. Bad sites cost votes. Arrogant content, inappropriate photographs (images have extraordinary power), or other gaffes can cost in real terms.

Comfortable incumbents may have the luxury of ignoring all of this. Others do not.

In assessing the impact of a blog, the first question is its readership. Does it get traffic? If so, who visits? Extreme sites have no impact at all, drawing already decided traffic. The sites worthy of attention must 1) get a lot of traffic and 2) draw those whose vote can be influenced. I speculate few such blogs exist. Yes, I advocate a blue wave in 2008. Do I think this will change one vote? NO.

Still, the astute pay attention to the blogs that discuss them, classifying the blog and its content by relevance. Campaign staff may not have to speak, but they definitely have to listen. If you don’t know what happens when your name is Googled, you are Web 2.0 blind. By virtue of holding office, a politician is online and should pay attention.


Anonymous the doctor said...

Sometimes I have wonder a little bit about you, x4mr.

Has anyone ever told you that you are, uh, a little bit strange?

I don't know where you found that image of the girl under the keyboard.

I don't think I want to know.

8/10/2007 1:19 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Yeah, note the timing of the story.

I really need to develop the discipline of not posting after 11 PM. I deleted that photo and toned down the rhetoric a little.

8/10/2007 7:53 PM  

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