One of the key lessons of the Web 2.0 era is this: Users add value. But only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application via explicit means. Therefore, Web 2.0 companies set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data and building value as a side-effect of ordinary use of the application. As noted above, they build systems that get better the more people use them.
As we go through the process of making investments this is a set of questions we come back to over and over again. How can all users benefit from the actions of a few? What are the network effects within the data? How can the system get better as more people use it?
I find the final three questions particularly useful in self-evaluation of one’s product and strategy.
It’s amazing how the success of some Web 2.0 companies have come largely due to exuberance of evangelists. One would be wise to make this core group of people a large part of their initial go-to-market strategy. Case in point: Getting Ashton Kutcher on Twitter.
How people relate to data and how data relates to people. This is perhaps one of the key, yet subtle, differences about Web 2.0. Beyond that, I think we’re seeing an evolution in these relationships and how companies are leveraging them to find value for users. Case in point: Quora.