Creating User Value by Moving up the Wisdom Hierarchy

Wisdomhierarchy3 With many Web 2.0 ventures talking about aggregation of user generated content, it is getting more and more difficult to establish true differentiation.  It seems some start-ups may have missed a few fundamental points in considering how to (1) create User (Personal) Value before Network Value and (2) Move up the Wisdom Heirarchy by going beyond aggregation.

These two points have been highlighted in blogs of Joshua Porter (Bokardo) and Kathy Sierra (Creating Passionate Users and the source of the graphic you see at the left).

I see these two lessons as fundamental to the introduction of new, differentiated Voice 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 web app offers.  Borrowing from both… we might say new social communications web applications should …

Create Personal Value (first) by moving up the wisdom hierarchy.

… it seems basic, but I suspect if implemented with passion, it may be a very powerful guiding principle to keep in mind.   For more detail, I’ve linked to Joshua’s and Kathy’s posting below.  Both are certainly worth a read.

Joshua Porter reminds us that to be successful, Web 2.0 start-ups that intend to leverage user-generated content and network effects must remember that "Personal Value must precede Network Value."

The one major idea behind the … is that personal value precedes network value. What this means is that if we are to build networks of value, then each person on the network needs to find value for themselves before they can contribute value to the network. In the case of, people find value saving their personal bookmarks first and foremost. All other usage is secondary.

Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate User fame offers an interesting framework to "move up the wisdom hierarchy".   

If you’re an aggregator "harnessing collective intelligence", what are you aggregating? If it’s data and information, you’re competing with just about everything–Google searches, reference docs both online and printed, the majority of tech books and articles, etc. But if you’re aggregating up the hierarchy through knowledge, and especially understanding and wisdom, you’re adding huge value to someone’s life.

If you’re in knowledge management, what exactly are you capturing and managing?

If you’re a teacher, what are you teaching? Facts and information, or practical knowledge and understanding? Are you teaching the What and the How but without the Why and the When? More importantly, what are you testing? (Not that in the US most public school teachers have a huge say in this, unfortuntately)

If you’re a tech writer, what are you writing?

If you’re creating tutorials and docs for your users, what are you focusing on? Remember, kicking ass and creativity usually doesn’t happen at the data, information, and even the knowledge level. If you’re not taking your users up the top tiers, you might be missing the chance to give them more inspiring (cognitively arousing?) experiences.

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