Anyone who is familiar with the concept of Web 2.0 has heard it all before. The web slowly developed into the massive social and interactive hub that it is today. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others helped drive this development and push the Web 2.0 concepts that were first talked about in the early 2000s. But like all narratives, there are other perspectives.
Here is where Alexis C. Madrigal comes in with an article he wrote for The Atlantic, which outlines how the history of the Web is wrong. He basically espouses that the “vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs.” He refers to this idea as Dark Social.
The more you read his explanations and discussions about Dark Social, the more it makes sense. The idea of Dark Social is that we were always inherently social online, even before any social media or interactive sites came about. It’s human nature to be social, so that’s no surprise. He’s not saying that the concepts of Web 2.0 are wrong, he’s saying that we might want to look at the narrative we tell ourselves; that might be what’s incorrect.
What’s fascinating about Madrigal’s idea is that it flips the idea of what drove the Web 2.0 movement. Instead of thinking “‘social networks’ and ‘social media’ sites created a social web,” Madrigal says we should think of it the other way around. The web was already social, and technology had reached a point where these new sites could harness and bring that activity to the surface.
In his case at The Atlantic, they discovered that “almost 69% of [their] social referrals were dark!” That’s a huge number when people today assume that all of the traffic comes from these social media and Web 2.0 heavy sites. Maybe eventually the big names in Web 2.0 will take over the role of Dark Social. For now, though, the individual directly communicating and sharing with others is still a major part of the internet, just like it always has been. Be sure to check out his article; it’s very interesting!