Now we have armies of amateurs, happy to work for free. Call it the Age of Peer Production. From Amazon.com to MySpace to craigslist, the most successful Web companies are building business models based on user-generated content. This is perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of the second-generation Web. The tools of production, from blogging to video-sharing, are fully democratized, and the engine for growth is the spare cycles, talent, and capacity of regular folks, who are, in aggregate, creating a distributed labor force of unprecedented scale. . . . But it’s a mistake to equate peer production with anticapitalism. This isn’t amateurs versus professionals; it’s each benefiting the other. Companies aren’t just exploiting free labor; they’re also creating the tools that give voice to millions. And that rowdy rabble isn’t replacing the firm; it’s providing the energy that drives a new sort of company, one that understands that talent exists outside Hollywood, that credentials matter less than passion, and that each of us has knowledge that’s valuable to someone, somewhere.
A good Web site is a partnership between the people who build and maintain it, and the people who visit it.