Product & Startup Builder

Aggregation is King

Added on by Chris Saad.
I am finally home from our trip to the US. It was a fantastic visit - the first of many. You can see some of the pictures at Flickr.

But back to the real stuff:

Disclaimer: I am using the terms Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 pretty heavily here. I am aware of the buzzword fatigue that they are attracting these days but these terms give me an invaluable shorthand for referring to different bubbles/iterations/movements/waves.

Aggregation (not Content) is king.

I've been saying this to people for a while but have not really had a chance to blog about it. It actually came up a few times at conferences such as Web 2.0, Web 2.2 and StartupCamp while I was in the Bay Area.

The common misconception these days is that services like YouTube are Web 2.0. This is only partially correct. Uploading your work to a site, rating it, sharing it - these are not new concepts. Sites/Services like DeviantArt have been doing it since Web 1.0.

People are talking about the word 'Community' like it represents the spirit of Web 2.0. Community was one of the buzzwords of the Web 1.0 bubble. It is not new.

The new part is that YouTube lets you embed your video on other sites and access their content via RSS. These are both forms of syndication.

So if syndication is the main new feature (and not community or user-generated content) then the main new tool must be aggregation.

But aggregation is a means to an end. When a user is able to access content on their own terms another much more fundamental trend reveals itself. Personalization.

Every feature typically associated with Web 2.0 (blogs, syndication, rating, digging, ajax) is actually about allowing greater Personalization by putting the user at the centre of their experience.

However the current set of aggregators (with a few exceptions) has a long way to go until they give a user ultimate personalization. Allowing them to choose the feeds they want to read is the most basic form of personalization. There is so much more room to innovate.

While most have focused on the boring folders/items metaphor, and others like Microsoft have created useless 3d representations of those same folders and items, the real opportunity lays in recognizing that aggregation + true personalization is actually the holy grail of this latest web iteration.