The New Wild West: The Lawless World of Social Media, Online Communities and User-Generated Content Presents an Untapped, but Treacherous, Frontier of Opportunity

By Wade, Jared | Risk Management, October 2009 | Go to article overview

The New Wild West: The Lawless World of Social Media, Online Communities and User-Generated Content Presents an Untapped, but Treacherous, Frontier of Opportunity


Wade, Jared, Risk Management


IN the 1800s the frontier west of the Mississippi was a pristine land of opportunity for ambitious traders, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers. The past 15 years have offered a similar hope for any company savvy enough to leverage online opportunities into bottom-line bonanzas.

The days of using the web solely to benefit from online commerce and one-way promotion are over, however, and a new age where user-generated content, consumer sentiments and unedited dialogue define a brand's reputation is changing way all companies must operate.

The internet turned 40 years old last month. Hearing about this anniversary was surprising to many because for the bulk of this time, the underlying technology and networks that allowed distant computers to communicate with one another lived in obscurity with only a small percentage of academics, government agents and tech geeks even aware of their existence. It was not until 1990 that the World Wide Web as we now know it was born, ushering in layman-friendly platforms like the Mosaic web browser and, later, AOL to fuel greater internet usage throughout the decade.

Today, we have progressed to yet another generation of the internet, only this new era has been launched not so much by new technology but by a sea change in how people interact with one another on the computer. The first era of the web, commonly referred to as Web 1.0, was marked by static content that was distributed through a passive, one-way exchange. The current era, or Web 2.0, is instead categorized by a host of applications that allow for the proliferation of "user-generated" content that is designed to be both more collaborative and shared throughout multiple platforms. That difference may seem like a small one, but as the internet continues to age, the new standards that are being developed now will cause the Web 1.0 era to be remembered as we currently view the 1969 to 1989 period in online history: as a footnote in time that has little to no practical bearing on how the modern internet is used or organized.

Even today, an exact definition of Web 2.0 remains elusive. More than a term with a precise meaning, it is an umbrella phrase used to group concepts about how the internet is now used: user-generated content, collaboration, interactivity and information sharing. People, both professional and amateur, are putting these concepts to work in the form of blogs, social networks and online forums in almost as many different ways as there are topics to discuss.

"The web has captivated people's minds like nothing before and there are so many opportunities," said Brian Cummings, director of information risk management at Tata Consultancy Services, a Mumbai, India-based IT services provider. "The world is getting flatter and flatter."

This flat world has created a new frontier of opportunity for companies. Companies can create promotional videos for their products and distribute them through platforms like YouTube or Vimeo for a cost that is essentially free compared to television advertising. They can purchase highly targeted ads on social networking sites like Facebook that allow them to raise their profile among nearly any demographic imaginable. And they can use micro-blogging sites like Twitter to interact directly with customers and generate invaluable feedback about how people view their brand.

One company that has benefitted greatly from Twitter is Dell. By promoting upcoming sales and discounts, some of which were made available through links distributed exclusively on Twitter, the company has generated more than $3 million in direct online sales, according to company reports. For Dell, which generated $12.3 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2009 alone, $3 million is not a windfall. But the company has seen related sales trending upwards recently, particularly as the traffic to Twitter's website continues to rise. (In June, nearly 45 million unique visitors used the site, and number that may not even include many people who only "tweet," i. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The New Wild West: The Lawless World of Social Media, Online Communities and User-Generated Content Presents an Untapped, but Treacherous, Frontier of Opportunity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.