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Author Topic: A set of Essays about Web2.0 on Topic of Fake Sharing vs. Real Sharing  (Read 6043 times)


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A thoughtfull recent debate sparked some noteable essays on the blogosphere recently:
The Ethics of Web 2.0: YouTube vs. Flickr, Revver, Eyespot,, and even Google
So there’s an important distinction developing among “user generated content” sites — the distinction between sites that permit “true sharing” and those that permit only what I’ll call “fake sharing.”

A “true sharing” site doesn’t try to exercise ultimate control over the content it serves. It permits, in other words, content to move as users choose.

A “fake sharing” site, by contrast, gives you tools to make seem as if there’s sharing, but in fact, all the tools drive traffic and control back to a single site.

In this sense, YouTube is a fake sharing site, while Flickr, (parts of) Google,, Revver and EyeSpot are true sharing sites.

Jaron Lanier recently called the Web 2.0 movement "digital maoism." Now, as if on cue, the Cultural Revolution has begun.

Lawrence Lessig, in a post titled "The Ethics of Web 2.0," suggests that some Web 2.0 companies are not fit to wear the Web 2.0 label. There are real Web 2.0 companies, and there are sham Web 2.0 companies. There are those that maintain their ethical purity, that obey the Code, and there are the transgressors, the ones that have fallen from the shining path.

YouTube comes in for a bit of a tongue-lashing from Larry, being singled out as a "fake sharing" site. Larry notes that "YouTube gives users very cool code to either “embed” content on other sites, or to effectively send links of content to other sites. But never does the system give users an easy way to actually get the content someone else has uploaded."

I'm not sure that Larry's entirely right about YouTube, but I believe that he's entirely right about the importance of the "true sharing" principle.
One of the central themes of Web 2.0 is the ability for users to control their own data and the ability for people to share and remix. In this context, many, if not most good Web 2.0 services allow users to download, link and reuse all if not a substantial part of the content they work on.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2006, 01:12 AM by mouser »


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Um, I don't remember being able to download ("own") and remix/alter content as being an intrinsic part of "Web 2.0". I'm betting that a lot of "Web 2.0" companies didn't get that memo either. Maybe Lawrence should have sent it priority mail or something. :P

Seriously though, it seems like this is just Lessig attaching his particular vision of "user empowerment" to the Web 2.0 moniker. Unless this is something everyone has talked about and I just missed. I do recall plenty of discussions about "the future of media" with the whole world making crappy remixes of real artist's work, but I don't recall it being imtimately intertwined wtih Web 2.0.

Anyway the whole use of that term just loads the conversation IMO. Instead of criticizing a company for calling itself "Web 2.0" and then not living up to some imagined ideal of that term, why not just criticise them for not doing what you want them to do in the first place?

But let's move on to the real meat of the subject: YouTube is not "truly" enabling its users to "share", because you can't download stuff off it through official means. Um, but you can *view* it online, right? I mean, same with Flickr, right? And sure you can right-click and download pics off Flickr, but I bet you Joe-Bob didn't really put his pics up there just so you could grab them and use them in your latest photo collage.

What I'm getting at is that Lawrence's idea of "sharing" is a lot more open and broad than most people's idea. It's a great ideal, but it is just that: idealistic. YouTube would certainly be dealing with a lot *more* legal hassle if people could actually download and enjoy these videos at any time. Streaming them is bad enough for the big media moguls.

So whether they (the media companies) are doing right or wrong in pursuing the protection of their copyrighted material, it is silly at the least to be harsh on the distributors for not allowing download. The only way things are going to be changed is by addressing this in legislation - as long as it remains illegal, nobody in their right mind would stake a business worth more than a billion dollars on the bet that media owners won't sue. :P

- Oshyan