The new "social era" of the Internet

Ross Mayfield was extraordinarily eloquent in his interview with Media Insider about the dramatic shift toward more social use of the Internet:

The most significant trend since boom and bust is using the Internet for social means. When you have a critical mass of users connecting and falling costs for a certain period, complex results emerge — you see it in social software (weblogs, wikis, IM, RSS) and social networking (Meetups, Friendster, Tribe, LinkedIn). People expressing their identities online and forming networks. We learned it isn’t about transactions and machines talking to machines, it’s about relationships and conversations between real people. Latent demand for social capital is a powerful force that has been unleashed not only by the falling cost of access. Light-weight web-native tools are reducing the cost of group-forming and putting users in control of their own networks. This transforms consumers into participants and organizers. In software, it means the rise of open source. In media, it means the rise of participatory journalism. In politics, it means fostering under-represented constituencies and emergent democracy. In enterprises it means adapting the best of these simple tools and empowering users to get things done and develop a group memory. This is driven by social software that has a role for users as developers driving change from the bottom-up.

He also offered some excellent, concise insight into the blogging phenomenon:

Bloggers do not write for readers, they write for writers. RSS and Atom become the backbone for distribution and enable a social filtering process that lets the best content and expertise emerge and disseminate. Content is easily aggregated, repurposed and built upon. Readers have become writers, users and developers.