So much of the hype for web2.0 surrounds the desire of people to interact with one another - we all know that the web is a social phenomenon not a media phenomenon or a technological phenomenon (PomoBlog). SecondLife, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, email, IM: it's all about the social, the human interaction.
So it's nice just for a change to see someone pointing out that the converse holds very true as well - that so many digital success stories are all about avoiding interactions.
Over at TechCrunch Mike Arrington declares that "there is almost nothing I like less than negotiating with salespeople", a sentiment I'm sure is almost universally shared and leads Mike to buy his cars online. Which reminds me, of course, of the many other digital success stories where much of the benefit is in the antisocial - of real estate, where property search engines and websites let people find houses while minimising their contact with estate agents (which is one of the reasons estate agents hate them). Of travel, where online bookings minimise contact with travel agents. And of course of Google's phenomenally successful AdWords, where a self-service auction mechanism lets small business owners place ads without having to talk to any ad salesmen. (On a purely anecdotal level, I'm told by the small business owners I've asked about the subject that it's a slow day when they're not cold-called by ten ad salesmen they've never spoken to before - no surprise, therefore, that the opportunity to book ads without that interaction comes as a godsend to so many.)
So will marketers destroy Second Life (AdRants)? Perhaps - they've already gone some way to destroying email. One of the tricks to understanding the social value of the web is understanding the antisocial value of the web - how much value it delivers by helping us avoid unwanted, intrusive interactions that merely increase psychological transaction costs.