Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Business and convergent technologies 17 – 1000 points of light: the proliferation and evolution of interactive online options

Posted in business and convergent technologies by Timothy Platt on December 5, 2009

In October, I received a comment to one of my postings that I have not been able to completely get out of my mind, and it in fact played a role in my assembling this blog posting series: Business and Convergent Technologies. The comment, which I responded to in general terms at the time, asked me to share my opinion on three of the many new and up and coming business-oriented social networking sites that have recently come online. That got me thinking about all the social networking sites and groups I get invited to join, and the numbers of such sites and groups that I am sure most people are invited to join who are at all active online. I also started thinking about all of the apps and other tools and resources that are out there and entering the marketplace for interactive online, and how they collectively both create and shape our online experience. Below, organized alphabetically by name, I include a table listing approximately 200 resources of all sorts, all directed towards serving specific communities and demographic groups, and members thereof in their interactive online experience. This is, of course, by no means an all-inclusive list of options and even just as a snapshot of the current state of the art for Web 2.0 and our emerging all the time and everywhere online capabilities of ubiquitous computing and communications. I simply offer it as a quick view of some of the rapidly expanding opportunity and choice of resources for creating online connectivity, information sharing and community.

One point that comes immediately to mind for me while looking over this bottom-of-posting table is that while many of these entries are provided by for-profit businesses as their branded products and services a great many are also provided as free and even as open source offerings and many are developed by small businesses and individuals who seek to both create and openly share value. A second point that comes to mind is the incredibly rapid pace of development for this growing richness and diversity of resources.

In posting 13 in this series, The Evolution and Co-Evolution of Technology, Marketplace and Community I began a discussion on how online communities evolve and in coordination with the tools and other connectivity resources they have at their disposal.

I wanted to share some thoughts on the monetization and economics of information in an information economy before continuing my train of thought as to the evolution of all this and how it proceeds. Having done that, I want to pick up on the general issue of the evolution of these information and networking resources here, delving a bit into mechanisms for evolutionary change in an information economy and marketplace. I start by simply stating that absent a clearly articulated basis for how evolution would work in this context, any reference to it as a descriptive or explanatory model can at best simply be vague metaphor for an unanalyzed and probably ill-considered concept. So I want to focus on mechanism and process here.

Any mechanism-based model for the evolution of information-based system resources is going to have to include at least two specific elements:

• A source of new variation for selection and evolution to act upon. This, I have been discussing already in several postings in this series and in the blog in general, in contexts like discussion of open source versus proprietary products, services and their underlying computer code.
• A mechanism counterpart to natural selection, which I will explore a bit here.

I am going to start this by reviewing and critiquing an observation and a predictive model known as Metcalfe’s Law, which I will reframe in a modified form to expand its range of effective applicability and generality.

Metcalfe’s Law, first formulated by Robert Metcalfe, states that the value of a network expands exponentially as the number of nodes in it increases. This would in fact be expected to be true as stated and with a significant exactitude under certain very specific conditions. To cite a comparable biological analogy, the growth curve of a bacterial culture also starts out exponential when the overall bacteria count is still very low and there is a large supply of nutrients available for it to grow out into. To follow up on that analogy, as the bacterial count rises, the rate of growth of the culture starts to level out from its initial exponential growth phase. A similar effect is observed in social networking systems and network value, where the more people you connect with the larger the percentage on average of their social networks you are already connected to. Value only increases exponentially where you are not finding yourself already connected to the same people that your new contacts are connected to anyway. When that happens value starts to level off and plateau as you in effect saturate the available networking community with your social networking reach.

I would argue that the truest measure of selective advantage that is available for any networking web site, app or information and network sharing channel is its ability to increase networking value to the individual in the sense cited above – networking reach and power. This connects into issues of utility and of economic value in the information economic sense. There are two basic ways to drive increased value here and increase natural selective value in particular for any given networking resource:

• Effectively increasing the novelty of a new networking contact’s current social and/or business network that you would tap into through this new resource within the same static community.
• Effectively increasing the overall pool of individuals and as such the networking community size that is available to network with (by for example drawing in more late adaptors with ease of use and appealing functionality improvements).

When two or more comparable resources compete to offer the same type of networking capabilities to the same community members, as they become aware of their options and the strengths and weaknesses they have, the ones that hold greater selective value as measured above will prevail in the marketplace.

The next posting in this series I am going to continue this thread with a discussion of evolutionary process in information economy systems, citing among other things a model initially developed for biological systems – the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

A Sampling of Interactive Online Options
100zakladok
A1 Webmarks
AIM Share
Amazon
Amen Me!
Arto
Ask
Aviary Capture
Backflip
Baidu
BallHype
Bebo
Bit.ly
BizSugar
Bleetbox
Blinklist
Blip
Blogger
Bloggy
Blogmarks
Bobrdobr
BonzoBox
Bordom
Brainify
Bryderi.se
BuddyMarks
Buzz
Care2
CiteULike
Colivia.de
Connotea
Delicious
DesignBump
Designmoo
Digg
Diggita
Diglog
Diigo
DoMelhor
Doower
Dosti
DotNetKicks
Dropjack
Dzone
Edelight
eKudos
Embarkons
Email – service providers
euCliquei
Evernote
Fabulously40
Facebook
Fark
Faves
Favorites
Favoritus
flikr
Floss.pro
Fnews
Folkd
Fresqui
FriendFeed
funP
fwisp
Gabbr
Gacetilla
GlobalGrind
GluvSnap
Gmail
Google
Google Reader
Gravee
Grumper
Haber.gen.tr
Hacker News
Hadash Hot
Hatena
Hazarkor
HelloTxt
HEMiDEMi
Hipstr
Hitmarks
Hotklix
Hotmail
HTML Validator
Hyves
Identi.ca
InvestorLinks
Jamespot
Jumptags
Kaboodle
Kaevur
KiRTSY
Kledy
koornk
Kudos
Laaikit
Librerio
Link Ninja
Link-a-Gogo
LinkedIn
Linkuj.cz
Live
LiveJournal
Lunch.com
Lynki
Meccho
meinVZ
Memori.ru
Menéame
Mindbodygreen
Mister Wong
Mixx
Multiply
myAOL
Mylinkvault
MySpace
N4G
NetLog
Netvibes
Netvouz
NewsTrust
Newsvine
Nujij
OKNOtizie
Oneview
Orkut
Osmosus
Oyyla
PDF Online
PhoneFavs
PimpThisBlog
Ping.fm
Planypus
Plaxo
Plurk
Polladium
Posterous
PrintFriendly
Propeller
Pusha
Quantcast
Read It Later
Reddit
Scoop.at
Segnalo
Shaveh
She Told Me
Simpy
Skype
Slashdot
Smak News
SodaHead
Sonico
Speedtile
Sphinn
springpad
Squidoo
Startaid
Startlap
Strands
studiVZ
Stuffpit
StumbleUpon
Stumpedia
Stylehive
Svejo
Symbaloo
Tagza
Technorati
TellMyPolitician
ThisNext
Tip’d
Transferr
Translate
Tulinq
Tumblr
Tusul
TweetMeme
Twitter
Typepad
Viadeo
Virb
Vyoom
Webnews
Whois Lookup
Windy Citizen
Wordpress
Worio
Wovre
Wykop
Y! Bookmarks
Y! Mail
Yammer
Yardbarker
Yigg
Yoolink
Yorumcuyum
YouMob
Zynga

3 Responses

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  1. peter sabbagh said, on December 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    What about MemCatch (www.memcatch.com)? Allows for the aggregation/webclipping like some other apps, but focuses on the sharing of this knowledge across social networks. The iPhone app, desktop client (for all platforms), and LinkedIn, & Facebook are coming out in the next couple months, integration with Twitter already exists. It will soon include: email integration (syncs with emails and lets you flag the ones you want to keep directly to your knowledge base), learning management system integration (for students), and RSS feed integration.

    Peter Sabbagh

    • Tim Platt said, on December 6, 2009 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Peter and thanks for a great comment. You are right that I missed a lot of great options in my table formatted list, and that includes a couple of potential entries I will discuss at least briefly in the next posting in this series. As for integration of functionality, information creation and sharing and networking reach by coordinately using subsets of these options – that is a crucial element to really understanding Web 2.0 and the emerging ubiquitous computing and communications at all. Thanks again, and please share more comments as you note points of interest and that need more detail. Tim

  2. […] to recapitulate the circumstances that led me to list a bunch of resources (about 200) as I did in 1000 Points of Light: the Proliferation and Evolution of Interactive Online Options. I will simply acknowledge here that a rapidly growing and already very extensive set of these […]


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