Excuse me, do you mind if I Re-Tweet the message you just posted on Twitter?
It's a silly question of course. We TWEET because we want people to re-tweet us.
Or, going back even further. What would have happened if Google had gone out and said: Dear Steve: I'd like to add your web site URL to my index in order to provide a comprehensive search offering?
The nature of the web is based on sharing and linking - not walled gardens and selective permission.
And yet, while Google has made the premise of linking and sharing core to search - the large brands, e-commerce sites, and even some publishers are reluctant to link or excerpt or aggregate without asking permission.
This is a disaster. A disaster for them. Because as they carefully and singularly ask permission - their new competitors are operating under web rules. Web rules are link first, ask question later. If someone doesn't want to be summarized, or linked to - then they will tell you so, and you can take them down. But more likely, you won't because odds are you aren't violating the limits of fair use.
Huffington Post was in many ways a test, and a vindication of this premise. Say what you will about the handful of unpaid bloggers who are now 'suing' Huffington Post. My attorney friends say they have not a leg to stand on. But no one is questioning the content aggregation and curation model that is front and center in the Huffington Post model.
Arianna Huffington recalls a story of one of her early conversation with Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL when he offered her resources to hire more journalists and pay for more content. Sure, they'll pay more content creators she told him, but it's impossible even with a billion dollars to make as much content with the breadth and diversity that aggregation and curation allows you. Simply put, curation is what makes Huffington Post a unique, timely, topical mix. It's not a low budget hedge against journalism, it's a reader friendly mix of created and collected content. And that mix works.
When Chris Anderson wrote the now famous article in Wired about The Long Tail, he correctly pointed out that in a world of digital content - all created content lives forever, stored virtually without cost on digital shelves, and available at the click of a mouse. Of course, he didn't take the long tail of content out to its inevitable and horrible conclusion. In a world of unlimited content creation and delivery - finding what matters and what's useful becomes increasingly problematic.
Huffington's links to content in a noisy world are the guideposts, the pointers, and provides the traffic that otherwise undiscovered content needs to break through the noise and become relevant.
The web is no longer a place of permission and control. Instead, it's a place where being pointed to, linked to, re-tweeted, recommended, or otherwise endorsed is the coin of the realm.
Like this? Link to it. Re-Tweet It. Tell folks about it. I'll be glad you did.
Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of Magnify.net, and the Author of the recently released McGrawHill Business book "Curation Nation" (March / 2011). Steve can be contacted at email@example.com Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/magnify
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