Citmedia friend and contributor J.D. Lasica reported earlier this week from the Web 2.0 Expo . Bill Tancer, general manager of research at HitWise and Dave Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati paired up for a keynote on the state of the “Participatory Web” or “Live Web.”
There’s no question that blogs and other participatory sites have seen tremendous growth. Sifry’s State of the Live Web blog entry notes 70 million blogs with another added every 1.4 seconds), while Tancer noted a 668% growth for popular participatory websites since April 2005.
But that growth is also deceiving in a way:
Said Tancer: “It’s not the 80-20 rule anymore. It’s 1-9-90.” Spread across the Web, generally 1 percent of visitors are creators and producers, 9 percent are “highly involved participators”,… and 90 percent are consumers or viewers.”
These technologies and approaches to the web are still in their infancy, so hopefully time and the greater public consciousness of these tools will raise the participation rate. But these statistics about Web 2.0 participation have implications for citizen media, too. Are we truly erasing the barriers between citizen and media, or are we just replacing one set of gatekeepers with another?
It’s also possible business leaders are looking at participation in the live web the wrong way. Web 2.0 isn’t just about a handful of “killer apps” that will make their CEOs millionaires and rock gods among the geek crowd. It’s also about the dozens or hundreds of small sites that won’t ever get that much buzz, from the small-town hyperlocal media sites to the private social networks keeping a group of friends or colleagues in touch for decades. It’s about those human connections that go from the web to face-to-face to phone and back again, over and over. It is alive. And that’s a lot harder to fit onto a PowerPoint chart.