There are a number of private torrent networks out there that keep track of your upload vs download ratios. Put simply, if you don’t give then you can’t take.
In those networks the rules are rigid and you either play by the rules or you don’t.
I like how a number of excellent web services offer a better experience as users contribute more to the service.
I’m going to mention a few that aren’t in the Spark portfolio just so it’s clear that I’m not trying to plug our investments (at least in this post :)
One of my favorites has to be Last.fm. I use the last.fm app to record or scrobble all of my music history from my iphone, hype machine, itunes and last.fm. I “give” them my data and I get great stuff in return. First, I can find other users that share my taste in music. That’s super helpful. Second, my neighborhood radio keeps getting better and better as I contribute my data and others do as well. My song of the day that I posted this morning came from my neighborhood radio on last.fm. I bought that track and now I shared it with you all. Classic example.
Another example is linkedin. I have to confess, I was late to the linkedin train. But now that i’m fully on board its fantastic. But it has only become great for me because I’m investing in making my profile complete and because I’m making an effort to make connections with folks on the service. I invest my time and data and linkedin gives me great data and contacts in return. Give more = get more.
Okay, I’m going to break my rule and mention a few Spark portfolio companies (sorry i can’t help it). First, Tumblr. Because I share tunes everyday that I care about, a number of you take the time to send me emails or tweets with links to your tumbr site and share music in return. I don’t think I would discover so many artists on tumblr if I didn’t make the effort on my side. And I am grateful that many do the same in return.
In my opinion, Twitter improves for me personally as I contribute more and engage more. It’s a two way street.
My last example for this post is Foursquare. I contribute a bunch of data to Foursquare. Sure I check in to places everyday but I do a lot more than that actually. I add new listings. I add tips. I add friends. All of those are things I give to foursquare. And the more I give the more I get in return. Simple, example, because I added my friend Tim in atlanta i get to see where he goes on friday night for dinner with his family. I get that data in return and I also get something more, a close feeling of connection to one of my dearest friends.
I love these services. They all improve the user experience as you give more.
It’s a great model and works for me.