Step 2.0 in the Web revolution

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Step 2.0 in the Web revolution



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Langue English
Signaler un abus
One of the terms that has emerged
lately is “social media.” What exactly
is this and should the conventional
mass media feel threatened by it?
I like to say that the Web 2.0 revo-
lution is overthrowing the holy trini-
ty of mass production, mass marketing
and mass media. Mass production is
giving way to new forms of production
based not on top-down command-
and-control corporate structures, but
on horizontal collaboration and open
innovation. Mass marketing based on
selling “eyeballs” to brands with one-
way commercial messages is giving
way to networked information, in-
cluding ratings, rankings and reviews.
Marketers are no longer manufactur-
ers of messages, they are merely part
of a conversation – and in the final
analysis, not a very important part. A
lot of marketers don’t understand
Web 2.0 dynamics and it shows. They
are learning the hard way when they
get shamed on the Web. Finally mass
media like newspapers are giving way
to networked forms of “citizen jour-
nalism” where everybody is a reporter.
We are now getting information from
Twitter faster than it’s coming from
CNN. The old precincts of profession-
al journalism are collapsing, as we can
see with all the newspapers that are go-
ing bankrupt.
Unlike newspapers and TV and radio
stations, sites like Facebook and
Wikipedia have not yet worked out
how to make money from what they
do. Is this a hindrance to their future
development and do you think this
might change in the near future?
It is true that Facebook and Twitter
and a lot of Web 2.0 sites have yet to
find a profitable business model. But
you have to remind yourself that a lot
of businesses, including many great in-
novations, did not make money in their
early years. My educated guess is that,
as is the case with MySpace – which
was bought by News Corp – we will
soon see a flurry of mergers and ac-
quisitions between old media compa-
nies and new media platforms like Face-
book and Twitter. At that point, we’ll
get a better idea of how these Web-
based platforms can be monetized. If
you want to buy Facebook today, it will
cost you $4 billion. That’s the current
valuation of the company. Such figures
are usually based on calculations of fu-
ture cash flow. So somebody believes
that these platforms are going to make
money one day.
Bare facts
‘It’s called the open
kimono syndrome. In
the online world, we
are naked’
‘Marketers are no
longer manufacturers
of messages, they are
merely part of a
conversation – and, in
the final analysis, not a
very important part’
An estimated 1 million
people in Greece,
a country that has been notoriously slow
at picking up online trends, have a page
on the social networking site Face-
book, which just celebrated its fifth birth-
day. For many of those that use Face-
book or similar sites such as Twitter,
checking their page has become a dai-
ly ritual. For those that don’t use any of
the social networking sites, the devel-
opment of Web 2.0 is a revolution that
is happening in another country.
So is this type of communication and
interaction here to stay in Greece and
the rest of the world or is it just a pass-
ing fad? Few people are better placed
to assess this than Matthew Fraser, a
senior research fellow at the INSEAD
Business School in France, former edi-
tor of the Canadian daily National Post
and author of several books including
“Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom,”
which he wrote with Soumitra Dutta.
The title of the book refers to the Face-
book practice of users “throwing sheep”
to grab the attention of others. Athens
Plus asked Fraser if we are throwing
sheep or just behaving like them.
Facebook has just celebrated its fifth
birthday. It has 150 million users. Why
has it been so successful?
Facebook has been hugely successful
worldwide, because it provides an out-
let for two powerful human needs – first,
connecting socially with other people
and, second, presenting ourselves to
others in a way that comforts our self-
esteem. Facebook is about identity,
status, and ultimately about power.
Four in 10 Greek users say that they
feel the need to check their Facebook
page every day. Is this figure fairly
Many people now check Facebook
before they even check e-mail. That’s a
huge shift. A lot of people check Face-
book as soon as they wake up in the
morning. Your network of Facebook
“friends” has become an indispensable
part of your social and emotional life –
even though, in many cases, you have
never even met many of the people on
your “friend” list.
Zuckerberg said the point of the site
was to “give people the tools to
engage and understand the world
around them.” This is a lofty ambition
but in Greece, for instance, 46 percent
of users say they use the site to find
out friends’ news while 28 percent log
on to meet new people. Hasn’t
Facebook become a glorified forum for
gossip and chatting people up?
Facebook and MySpace and these
sites have social interaction unfettered
by the traditional constraints of space
and time. You can get to know some-
body and even feel close to them, even
though they may live on the other side
of the world. For many people, this is
tremendously liberating. It is true that,
for teenagers, sites like MySpace have
become virtual high school cafeterias
where there is tremendous competitive
rivalry about who has the most
“friends.” Getting “defriended” by
someone else can be a traumatic expe-
rience – even leading to suicide. The
problem in virtual reality is that every-
thing is transparent, everybody gets a
look into your soul, unlike in the real
world where we can compartmentalize
our relationships with different people.
For a 16-year-old with 600 “friends,”
whatever happens on Facebook is seen
by all 600 of them and sometimes that
can be painful. Engaging in the world
around us, including in the virtual
world, has always been a perilous un-
Is there a danger that interacting via
Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and so on
is stripping away people’s social
skills when it comes to face-to-face
Online social networks have defi-
nitely created tension between the
way we interact in the real and virtual
world, and sometimes there is confu-
sion. There is no question that people
reveal things – including posting pho-
tographs of themselves – on online net-
works that they would never reveal in
the real world. It’s called the open ki-
mono syndrome. In the online world, we
are naked.
Yet many people who interact socially
have somehow accepted that the online
world seems to be governed by its own
codes and rules regarding privacy. Peo-
ple are more narcissistic and exhibit
themselves more shamelessly in virtu-
al reality. But it can come back to bite
you in the real world.
Step 2.0 in the Web revolution
Matthew Fraser
Media industry expert looks at how online social networking is changing our lives
The overthrowing of mass production, mass marketing and the mass media
Online social networking
utterly transformed the way
people interact socially,
establishing new norms and
values – even perhaps a whole
new attitude toward privacy.
The workplace, too, is being
transformed by Web 2.0
platforms. In many companies,
employees are using wikis to
collaborate, managers are
using podcasts and some CEOs
are even communicating to
stakeholders with blogs. There
is still a major fear factor in
corporations about the dangers
of Web 2.0 – everything from
simple time-wasting to more
serious issues like data security,
reputational damage and legal
We call the Obama
victory Democracy 2.0. Obama
was using Web 2.0 platforms
like Facebook and Twitter long
before the mainstream media
grasped the bottom-up social
dynamics of his campaign.
Obama got very smart advice
from some major players in
Silicon Valley, including one of
the young founders of
Facebook, Chris Hughes, and
rolled out a highly successful
campaign strategy based on
connecting directly with
supporters through Web 2.0
platforms. Obama not only
mobilized support with
Facebook and Twitter, he also
raised a lot of money using
these tools.