Communities are not Web20 because talk is cheap!

I believe that communities are not web20 because talk is cheap!

I see this concept in many guises. It starts off something like this:

At a conference, after I speak, someone will approach me about the next great web 20 start-up they are working on. (To clarify, I welcome this of course – and will happily blog about it if it’s truly useful to the readers)

They outline their idea or show me a demo. At which point – I often tell them that this is just a community – it’s not Web20

They try to be polite. But generally respond by saying ‘what do I mean it’s just a community?

Let me explain

Offline Communities have been around for millennia. Online communities are relatively new – but even today – 20 or 30 years old.

Web20 has been around only for about three years. It includes communities as a subset – but it is more than a traditional community.

By the way, there is nothing wrong in being a community and communities have a lot of value especially in areas like viral marketing.

But they are not Web20

Try this acid test …

Fast forward your site or idea by three years.

What do you see?

If all you see is conversation(threads) then you have a community and not web 20


Because you don’t have any metadata.

In fact, the users must implicitly contribute to that metadata and then you must have some form of ‘algorithm’ for the lack of a better word, i.e. harnessing collective intelligence.

But first, to harness collective intelligence, you need metadata.

The ‘harnessing’ of collective intelligence can take many forms – Google page rank, Amazon book ratings, tag clouds etc etc.

But without metadata, all you have my friend is talk – and talk is cheap – as is sadly the perception of the concept outlined(i.e. it will never become a digital asset – it will always remain a conversation)

The same principles apply to Mobile Web 2.0 as well i.e. harnessing collective intelligence is a core principle of Web 2.0/Mobile Web 2.0


Thus, we need to think of an evolution of Digital communities over time and think of what it should be after a time window. Once you incorporate metadata, you can add other elements based on that metadata(for instance greater personalization/better customer service etc etc)