Author: FIGBERT <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2022 23:35:59 -0700
Add Aggregation Theory post
1 file changed, 63 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
diff --git a/content/posts/aggregation-theory-nitter.md b/content/posts/aggregation-theory-nitter.md
@@ -0,0 +1,63 @@
+title = "Aggregation Theory, Virtuous Cycles, and Nitter"
+date = 2022-06-27
+In 2015, Ben Thompson first proposed [Aggregation Theory] in an article
+by the same name. He argues, in short, that the internet "has
+fundamentally changed the plane of competition," in that in our era,
+"the most important factor determining success is the user experience."
+Why is it then, that YouTube and [Reddit] and [Twitter] all... suck?
+<!-- more -->
+The answer, I believe, lies just a sentence later in the article:
+> ... the best distributors/aggregators/market-makers win by providing
+> the best experience, which earns them the most consumers/users, which
+> attracts the most suppliers, which enhances the user experience in a
+> virtuous cycle.
+When YouTube first launched in 2005, it provided users with a vastly
+better experience than anything else available at the time. No longer
+did you have to download videos via `BitTorrent` or `ftp` (or however
+else one procured [elephant videos] back in the day): now you could
+stream them on the web.
+17 years have passed since then, and the world is a much different
+place. YouTube is the king of video on the internet. And yet, your
+browser's default `<video>` tag provides a way better experience than
+the slow and clunky YouTube player.
+The story is much the same for similar giants. Reddit was founded
+alongside YouTube in 2005, Twitter a year later. Both websites are
+slow, practically unusable on mobile, and heavily limited for those
+without an account.
+One would think that if success was truly predicated on a better user
+experience, such glaring flaws would lead to other platforms "winning"
+by simply providing a better UX. We can see glimpses of what this might
+look like with alternative front-ends, like [teddit] and [Nitter], which
+wrap around the existing platforms while massively cutting down on bloat
+– providing an objectively better UX. Nevertheless, YouTube and friends
+remain on top.
+The pivotal realization here lies in the second half of Thompson's
+paragraph quoted above: the idea that having a better UX grows the
+initial userbase of an aggregator, and that *having those users*
+enhances the experience for future users (who further improve the
+experience, attracting more users, and so on and so on).
+YouTube and Reddit and Twitter had a better UX than their competitors in
+the early 2000s, and attracted millions of users in the ensuing decades.
+Now the moat is too big for alternative platforms to overcome – no new
+startups have yet built a user experience more attractive than YouTube's
+2.5 billion users.
+[Aggregation Theory]: https://stratechery.com/2015/aggregation-theory/
+[elephant videos]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQXAC9IVRw