Quantity, not quality, rules the Web these days

So the Web has been around for most of my working life. In the early days, back when Times New Roman was the only font that worked well for a site design, everyone was enamored by the idea of the Web, and anyone could write whatever they wanted. A few paying commercial sites existed, such as Games Domain (now part of Yahoo Games), but for the most part it was all company sites like Ford.com and maybe one for your local paper -- those who had enough money to pay a Web developer and an ISP. Today, content rules the Web -- which is what makes Google so popular for searching. The more content there is, the more we need Google. Back in the Ford.com days and long before the Wikipedia mindset came into prominence, Google would have never existed because there were not that many sites and we didn't need to search the ones that were around. (By the way, does anyone know of a Google for social networking sites? I figure Google does not scan that content because it is protected.) Anyway, I realized today that the future of the Web is not in creating quality content, but creating extensive content. That's the whole idea behind a blog. Maybe this is not a new idea, since we've known for a while that there is an endless amount of cheap mass storage available, and we've been filling up our hard drives with MP3 files just to prove it. What I mean is from a written content perspective, more is better than good. One example I found today is this article on the top 185 songs by the Beatles. I could never imagine this piece being published in any kind of journal before the Web. For one thing, each song includes a link so you can hear it, which is invaluable. And, each write-up is somewhere around 600 words long. As a feature article (and the writing is actually quite good, no complaints there) it would take up every page of Wired including those usually reserved for advertising. Yet, it's not a book -- it's a feature article with "bite sized" nuggets you can read casually. It's also not long enough for a book. In fact, it's really a perfect example of what the Web is good at: quantitative articles that are held in a long-term archive, at a length that would never work for a magazine or newspaper. Oddly, in the age of short attention spans and scanning articles, it defies the normal conventions. Most importantly, if you are really into music and the Beatles, then you'll read every word. This long tail of content is really long -- in terms of word count and the fact that is appeals to only a specific population. Do you have any other examples of this middle-ground of Web content -- quantity versus brevity? Post in comments.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022