Jeff Jarvis sets out the case for people who contribute to a platform being rewarded for their contribution, possibly beyond just being able to conduct a free search. He says,
The thing that’s new about this new world is that we don’t just consume. In fact, the act of consumption is now an act of creation. There are so many examples. When I search on Google, I am finding stuff for me but when I click, I am adding to the wisdom of the crowd that makes Google more effective for every searcher who follows me.
While I’m not convinced that we should be sharing in Google’s ad revenue that they might pick up when I do a search and click on a paid link, Jarvis goes on to make the point that our individual actions create collective value.
When I consume content and want to save it on Del.icio.us or other such services, that’s an individual act. But the tags we create together yield amazing wisdom of the crowd that can be useful in helping people discover content, in organizing the web around topics again, in improving search results, and even in improving ad performance.
I contend that, power-users of sites such as Google, Flickr and YouTube aside, most people’s payoff from participation on a platform is better search, a chance at accidental fame, and faster access to information. At least that’s the payoff I’m happy with, but then again I may be too easily satisfied.