eBay and Web 2.0

Talk about Web 2.0 and people instantly think of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia: communities rising out of user-generated content. But if you are talking about user-generated content and communities then for me the defining site is still eBay.

I started using eBay in anger a while ago. I am blown away with the trading. Obviously I have a some views about shortcomings in their auction design (e.g. a seller with a feedback score of 0 can only send a message to one bidder a day in an auction she is running) but that’s another story.

What interested me most on eBay is the community. People are trading, exchanging, doing real tangible stuff on a day to day basis. And communicating with each other, if only through their feedbacks. On top of this, you can often see a history of what people have bought and sold which tells you an incredible amount about a person. Now, that is more meaningful (and probably monetisable) information about someone than you will find in any number of writings on a Facebook wall.

Does IT Matter?

On the one hand, obviously yes: 2nd hand cell phones in Burkina Faso

On the other hand, who in the USA or Europe would argue about the business benefits of mobile phones – they are so important that they are invisible.

IT does matter, arguably it matters more the more you take it for granted and the more invisible it becomes. But do IT departments matter? Well, that’s another story.