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Web 0.3

Okay, this is gonna be a little snarky.

I've been ramping up on Web2.0 references for my talk next week, and there's some good stuff to be had, especially lately. And so, when I came across Steve Johnson's note about his recent column on the subject for Discover, I was psyched.

And so I go over to the Discover site to pick up the article. And there I discover (sorry) that while I can print it out, I can't print out a print-friendly version. Why not? Because this feature is reserved for members. As is the ability to email the article. After all, why would a site want to increase its own traffic through word-of-mouth?

Oh, it gets better. Members are also allowed to "rate the article" and/or "bookmark it." Here's the irony. Both of these are hallmarks of Web 2.0 apps. Ratings and tags both increase the value of content, but as Chris Anderson notes in his summary of O'Reilly's essay, one of the core principles is

Network Effects by Default

Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application. Therefore: Set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data as a side-effect of their use of the application.

Discover clearly gets it insofar as they've got SBJ writing for them. But Chris's characterization is dead-on: the value-add of Web 2.0, once your users move beyond novelty, is trouble. It's not a privilege to be granted by the site, but a contribution from the users. Imagine how sparse the reviews and lists would be on Amazon if they charged you money, or even just layered it behind a demographiquiz. And actually, those aren't even the default net effects: imagine how much worse Amazon's "people who bought X also bought Y" feature would be if it were restricted in that fashion.

This really hasn't been that snarky, I suppose. And maybe I'm projecting a little, but it seems to me that part of Web2.0 as well is keeping the threshold as low as possible for the kind of collective intelligence that we're after. Requiring me to be a member in order to get a print-friendly version of an article that's available anyway? I'm pretty sure that's Web0.3 or so...

That's all.