The Growth of the Content Middle Man

Kevin Kelly recently wrote about how you can sell something that might otherwise be obtained for free. I disagree with his premises:

  • that everything online remains there forever – there’d be no use for archive.org if that were true…
  • and that the ‘previous wave of wealth was generated by selling copies’ – that’s a narrow statement restricted to markets where intellectual property was essential, and often inapplicable to tangible goods.

However, his ideas on how to add value to what is free or nearly free are a nice addition to my post on riding the data commodification trend.

One thing that he alluded to that I’ve been mulling over in my head is the growth of content middle men.  I created such a middle man with some folks at Best of the Z List (relaunch soon). We get opt-in attention on the one hand, folks submitting content on the other, and direct the attention to the best content – that is, the content that gets past our filters..

It’s worth noting that Best of the Z List (BOTZL) is a particular type of middle man, focusing on getting the attention of those who hold others’ attention – A list search bloggers. While the purpose of this was to ensure we’d get the content submissions needed to make BOTZL run, there may be a side-benefit. Social news sites – while often an inferior filter – tend to be more popular than the editorially-selected news – often a better filter – like the SearchCap Barry puts hours into. Perhaps BOTZL can rival social news sites in popularity if folks know that it’s read by big shots…

Anyways, as content grows to infinity, the attention we can give to others is reaching its limits. So there is a demand for others to act as filters and direct our attention to the best material. Hence Digg, Sphinn etc.

And there is a matching demand for attention. People crave attention, and the web amplifies that. Why did linkbait exist before link-based algorithms? Why do people get hooked on watching their traffic growth? Why do I love comments and reply to them fanatically?

The meaning, folks, is that we have a new market opportunity. We’re being creative here. There’s an opportunity to create a market. (In an upcoming blog post, I’ll go over the rewards of controlling said market.)

It turns out Chris Anderson was discussing in his blog and his book 2 years ago (I seem to have lost the link, sadly), but I didn’t know because I didn’t finish the book, being bored after the first few – very repetitive – chapters.

Hat tip for sharing the piece with me goes to Chris Anderson‘s sidebar.

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