Nick Carr recently published an article about how page views are consolidating:
He found that between the end of 2001 and the end of last year, the number of Internet domains expanded by more than 75%, from 2.9m to 5.1m. At the same time, however, the dominance of the most popular domains grew substantially. At the end of 2001, the top 10 websites accounted for 31% of all the pages viewed on the net. By the end of last year, the top 10 accounted for fully 40% of page views. There are more destinations online, but we eem to be visiting fewer of them.
Now that you can play music in Google's search results you have to think that consolidation is only going to get worse.
The cited research also notes that social sites are playing a role in the consolidation of traffic. Andrew Goodman recently published an article about why people would want to contribute to online communities. He noted that much of the community giving spirit is based on a common thread of a shared sense of justice in society. It then makes sense that political blogs, religious sites, deep niche sites, and things built on heavily biased/warped worldviews are typically stronger communities that are likely easier to maintain than those based on broad interests.
Add to that the following, and a clear trend emerges:
- people pay more attention to and believe what resonates with them
- people are more likely to share with those that resonate with them
- fringe biased content is typically more remarkable than vanilla unbiased content
- controversies spread far
As the big players keep taking verticals away from smaller players, back-filling their databases with partner licensed content, and personalizing results to match our worldviews, the profitable (and thus sustainable) communities will move more toward the fringe edges.
Unless there is some other change to modern relevancy algorithms, the top ranked results will be watered down vanilla content from editorially trusted sources or heavily biased content from the fringe. A mixture of various biases will also allow people to believe in whatever they thought was right before the consulted the oracle. There will be a reasonable accessible source for every lie. Thus we will think the information is of greater value, while it turns out to be low value entertainment leading to self fulfilling prophecies...but at least the ads will be targeted. :)
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