Charlie Bit My Finger
October 1st, 2008

This morning my friend Pete sent me the link to the Yahoo! News story yesterday about the YouTube movie Charlie Bit My Finger. When I found the movie on YouTube and clicked to play it, I was number 53,210,582 visitor to do so. The theme of the Yahoo story is what it “tells us about Web 2.0.” Here is some of the flavor:

But here’s the really interesting part: Tens of thousands of people who saw this clip did more than just smile and surf on.

They “mashed” it up with other media (“Charlie Bit Sarah Palin”), created a song about it (“Charlie bit my finger – The Musical”), created their own versions (“Shoshi bit my finger … again!”), posted their own comments, shared it with friends, or otherwise interacted with the original clip.

This is the world of Web 2.0. It is the evolution of Web platforms that are supporting millions of simultaneously connected global conversations. And it promotes the idea that a community is more powerful than an individual.

The point of this new media landscape is to create something and share it with the world. When we post anything to the Web, we are begging for a conversation. We want to be ridiculed, called out, accepted, talked about, linked to, and, most important, not ignored.

It’s easy to criticize the rise of participatory social media as a giant waste of time. And it’s true that a fair amount of what’s being created is adolescent. But that criticism misses the point: This trend is setting the stage for greater long-term engagement. It’s an indicator that people are working to find new ways to collaborate and to be part of something larger than they are individually. The sheer immensity of the participation is the story.

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