Social Media Grows in Terms of Connection, Not Content

I’ve long thought of the web as being about two things: content and connection. According to research by Forrester, connection is growing, while content creation is flat. I find this rather sad, since the ease of publishing is one of the things I like about the web.

There are posts at GigaOm and at Mashable, each of which provides a table showing that the percentage of web users considered Creators has dropped a little over the past year in both the USA and the EU. Neither post links to a post or page at Forrester. It seems strange that there isn’t a post at the Groundswell blog, since Groundswell seems to have provided the framework for the research.

Update, the following morning: there is now a post at Groundswell.

Content, Connection, and Directions

You may have been in on the recent conversation about blogs, social networks, and the stuff in between. To refresh your memory, or to get you caught up, here are three contributions to the conversation:

Alex Iskold just offered an evolutionary perspective on personal publishing. Blogs (e.g., Blogger, Movable Type, WordPress) were followed by social networks (e.g., MySpace, Facebook) which were followed by microblogs (e.g., Twitter, Tumblr). Alex described each of the three types of personal publishing as a vertical.

Fred Wilson posted a chart that he drew on a conference room whiteboard. His current focus, as a venture capitalist, is on the cluster in the middle: the one he labels as social blogging (and which corresponds to microblogs, in Alex’s term).

I presented my perspective on this issue in terms of content and connection. Blogs tend to emphasize content, social networks tend to emphasize connection.

I implicitly drew a horizontal line from content to connection, and placed blogs toward one end and nets toward the other. I think of Alex’s verticals as bounded by lines slicing up my horizontal continuum.

Fred’s line is of course diagonal. The more I think about it, the more I think that mine should also be diagonal. In fact, when I get some time (which I may do if my son’s nap continues) I’ll draw a two-dimensional chart, with content and connection as the two axes.

But now I should finish off the post-in-progress about LiveJournal, a product of great relevance to this conversation…