New Media Deal, Part II – the We Media Deal
My original New Medial Deal posting from August, 2004, is my favorite posting of all 220 or so that I’ve done to date. It has the most clicks of any posting I’ve done. People mention it to me all the time. I even used it as the foundation for the preface to our book at Return Path, Sign Me Up!
The general thesis (although the original posting is short and worth reading) is simple. Old Media was one-way communication – they produce it, you consume it, and Old Media had a deal with us: they give us free or cheap content, we tolerate their advertising. Think about your favorite radio station or an episode of The Office on TV. The New Media deal is an Internet derivative of that, that is founded on some degree of two-way communication: they give us free services and more targeted advertising in exchange for some of our personal data — just like the Old Media deal, we are willing make a small sacrifice, in this case, some pieces of our anonymity, in a heartbeat if the value exchange is there. This is true of everything from personalized stock quotes on My Yahoo! to the New York Times on the Web. The New Media Deal doesn’t replace the Old Media Deal, it just adapts it to the new environment.
But what about the new generation of services that have popped up on the web around peer production? The ones that aren’t one-way communication or two-way communication, but community-oriented communciation. (Note I am resisting hard calling them Web 2.0, but you know it’s there somewhere.) Does the New Media Deal still apply, or are we on to something else? I think the rules are morphing once again, and now there’s a new deal — let’s call it the We Media Deal — that builds on the "data as part of the value exchange" moniker of the New Media Deal. Like its predecessor deals, the We Media Deal doesn’t replace the New Media Deal or the Old Media Deal, it just adapts it for new types of services.
The We Media Deal has two components to it: (1) the value of the service to you increases in lock-step as you contribute more data to it, and (2) the more transparent the value exchange, the more willing you are to share your data.
Ok – that sounds very academic – what do I mean in plain English? Let’s break it down.
1. The value to you increases in lock-step as you contribute more data. This is something that probably wasn’t obvious with the original New Media Deal, since it wasn’t clear that if you gave My Yahoo! incrementally more data (one more stock quote, for example), you’d get more relevant ads or services. It’s a pretty static value exchange. But think about the new generation of web services around peer production.
– The more you use Delicious to bookmark web pages, the more relevant it becomes to you, and the more dependent you become on it as your own "Internet within an Internet."