Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Edgeio and The Costs of the Edge

Will Edgeio be Craigslist 2.0? Maybe, maybe not. I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know for sure.

But I can point out one issue that I see with this school of plays - you have to already be invested in the edge to participate. That is, you have to have a blog, website, etc - somewhere to put your tagged classified.

Now, that may help with identity and trust. But it also kills the magnitude of network effects.

That is, the utility of these models is bounded by how the fixed cost of investing in the edge (setting up a blog, etc) is in the first place.

Do these costs outweigh the benefits? I'm not entirely sure - but I would bet Craigslist and eBay will still be relatively hyperefficient.

Also note the confusion about thinking clearly about this class of plays - this has nothing to do with walled gardens at all.

Final note: the idea of microchunking is at the core of my media ppt, if you want more pain.

-- umair // 12:39 AM // 8 comments


// Anonymous Mathew Ingram // 2:29 AM

your ppt was an amazing document. very powerful especially the microchunks and reconstruction...lets do a podcast sometime
// Anonymous John Furrier // 3:36 AM

Hi Matthew,

Thanks :)

Hi John,

Thanks - when (if ever) I have time...

Thx for the comments guys.
// Blogger umair // 7:44 AM

disagree here ...

1) network effects are actually amplified (if done right) - the entire web becomes the network - an "open network" play that spans audiences way beyond the product.

2) this play is in the true spirit of blogging - MY content on MY weblog under MY control - always.
// Blogger David Gibbons // 6:59 PM

Since I expect that most people outside the digerati use hosted blogging tools, and thus do not control their content on their blog, am I missing the whole ownership ("MY...MY..MY") advantage?
// Blogger Anderson // 10:58 PM

I don't see a business here. While the general idea is cool, it's just that, an idea and not a business. It also solves a problem which doesn't exist, which seems par for the course with many "web 2.0" ideas.

First of all, as mentioned here, you have to have a blog to participate. Second, you have to either read blogs or find Edgeio to find out about the marketplace. So you've immediately narrowed down your potential sellers and buyers in a way that makes the entire thing a guaranteed bust. The whole point of selling second-hand is that you need a huge variety of items to sell, and a big enough audience to support that. I would like to see a poll of bloggers who have sold something on ebay, amazon, or craig's list in the past year. Then out of those I'd like to see people who had an unsatisfactory experience.

Even if you are satisified with just getting business from those small groups, you've got huge practicality considerations. I don't want to get into it, but in my mind, even bigger then spam is the problem of item maintenance. Remember that a HUGE percentage of craig's list and ebay stuff doesn't sell, either at all, or quickly. Considering that in any service like this, things will be co-listed elsewhere... and that craig's list is free...

People know classified are 'hot'. People are up on trends and they know that 'the edge' is a place to make a play and build upon. But Edgeio is a poster child, in my opinion, for all the people who may 'get it', but don't necessarily get business.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 1:43 AM


First, you are the great evangelist of the edge!

Second, if the tagging structure takes off, there is nothing saying it has to occur on a blog. It could occur at Google Base if that's searchable, eh? You could start a service to take ads with tags, no?

The important thing is the discoverability of tagged ads at the edge, wherever they are hosted, yes?
// Blogger Jeff Jarvis // 1:06 AM


The need to have a blog might be a problem in the immediate term, but all you really need to get your content into an edge aggregator/edge eater is access to an edge feeder (ie. anything that creates an RSS feed). That could include existing classifieds sites, if you can get them to play ball.

I think the change in user behaviour is a bigger barrier - edge plays ultimately shouldn't force the user into new modes of behaviour. Spam is an issue, but a solvable one.

Jeff adds the condition that Edgeio will work "if the tagging structure takes off". And ultimately that might be the problem - this idea is ahead of the curve and the systems aren't in place for it. Aggregated reviews make more sense, IMHO, since people are already reviewing items on their own sites (hence, no change in behaviour required).

But if aggregating content from blogs isn't the ultimate edge play, what is?

Maybe this comes down to the fact that Jeff Jarvis and Mike A have a subtly different perception of the edge: you see it as embracing creation from outside of the *firm*, while the bloggers see it as leveraging creation from outside of a centralized *site*. So by Mike A's definition, Squidoo is a centralized site that isn't leveraging the edge (it's not an aggregator) and by your definition it is an edge play because the users come from outside the firm. Thoughts?
// Anonymous Pete Cashmore // 2:14 PM

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