How many web developers aren’t aware of Metcalfe’s law? My guess is that most know it very well, but many never knew it had been formalized.

Digg is my quintessential example of this theory in action. I was one of the first users of digg 2.0, hearing about it on their podcast Diggnation. The traffic was sparse at begin with, but it seemed to explode at a some point. I remember the debates about adding non-technology digg categories. Many of the the old-school guys didn’t want their culture to be tainted by the “normies”. It’s crazy to try and limit your potential, especially once the ball gets rolling.

The utility of a network increases exponentially as the users of the network increases. This applies beautifully to social web sites, but does not apply to utility or productivity sites, we shouldn’t think that by simply creating a web site, we’ll get exponential traffic. Sites like salesforce.com and basecamp.com have no use of Metcalfe’s law, they may try to wedge social features into the site, but it ends up looking out of place. To truly take advantage, you need to create real value from the social aspect of your product.

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