Guardian Technology posted an article on the shrinking number of sources that most of use in using the web. Richard McManus commissioned some research in the number of Internet sited we use. The data showed that the Internet itself has grown by 77%, but that this does not mean that we use more sources on the Internet. The data actually showed that we use less sites, but the top 10 domains we use are proportionally increasing in seize. According to Mc Manus, the 'Top 10 domains account for 40% of the total pageviews on the internet - a 29% increase over the last five years'.
Social Networking sites as MySpace and YouTube have been important here. Carr in the Guardian also mentioned how many searches now bring up a Wikipedia entries.
Is this a good or a bad development? I would say it is good and bad. All of the top 10 domains are now owned by large corporations, who can influence what and how the sites develop. The changes of Flickr are an example of this, but comments by users show that people will most likely stay with their initial social networking site, as most of their peers are users as well and it seems people don't like to move en-block. On the other hand, the content generated on social networks still seems to be fairly uncensored, even on these corporately owned sites, and their filtering function is important for the management of the huge amounts of information out on the Net. Thinking of my own practice, where would I be without Stephen Downes OlDaily ? The amount of my time saved by following his daily dose of 'learning technology', rather than finding all information myself is considerable. Of course our filters have to be trusted and what we read has to be valuable.
The one problem I can see is that the smaller the number of sources, the less reliable the information will be. The lack of diversity could mean that the information on networks is not critically assessed and linked to a variety of positions and becomes too one-sided and self-serving.