Talking: The distributed web

One of the ah-hah! moments of the last three months is recognizing that one of the best ways for a digital media business to reach an audience is to stop trying to be a destination–
The (new) web we are moving into, the one some of us are already sick of calling Web 2.0, is both aggregated (think newsreader and personalized start page) and distributed (the same data can be found in more than one place, in more than one platform).
On a tactical level, this means that web sites that focus on improving their content, updating more frequently, recruiting users through community, etc. are missing half the picture–the half that says that if you issue APIs for your site’s products and services, allow remixes, encourage–no, help–users tag your data–and RSS-ify everything–you’ll be far ahead of the game and grow links–and audience–like crazy because your discoverability will soar. In other words, you need to not only improve your destination, you need to move off it.
With big media companies, the fear of letting data go into the ozone is often great–after all, mainstream media–outside of investigative journalism–is often about beautifully packaged, highly filtered points of view–as unique and distinctive as possible. The cost and effort involved in these products is often so great the idea of releasing assets–like so many red balloons–seems daunting.
And yet the user-driven successes of the past few years–the slashdots, the flickrs, the wikipedias–show that the greatest access and therefore the greatest exposure–come from distributed, remixed content that’s linked and distributed across the net–personalized to fit, if you will, everyone’s individual experience of Web 2.0.
Big media, if you want to catch up to your audience, you have to let go.
Update: In the middle of writing this, came across similar thoughts from Dorian Benkoil, NYC blogger and Corante columnist–worth a read, for sure.

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