Elbo.ws is the Next “Intel Inside”

I’m going to continue along the lines of music in Web 2.0 (as per my Last.FM post) with a discussion on how Elbo.ws – the music blog aggregator site – is the next “Intel Inside“. Now its old news that O’Reilly has said time and time again that the success of any given Web 2.0 application come from the data it generates and makes available. Applications do this using application stacks which, as njl1991 puts eloquently, are all about how we let prosumers and their data come and go. Unlike the traditional desktop stacks with Internet application stacks we have more of an opportunity to let people access data in a more transient manner (meaning they will be more open to using the service and uploading their data). Elbo.ws does this elegantly; as an anonymous user you can browse the site, search for an artist or track, find a download link to their song and download then leave the site. There’s no tie in and your accessing of the direct link raises that links value increasing the popularity of that song and creates valuable data for Elbo.ws. It is this data that people are searching for – what is hot, or more appropriately what is hyped in tracks, hyped in posts from bloggers, and the hot videos from around the music blogosphere.

Now you don’t need to know what the benefits will be of your data strategy; all you need to know is it’s necessary for competitive advantage that you establish one. As sarielwind notes the benefits will be emergent as the value of the data becomes emergent. We can use this data for more important purposes where we can engineer, produce and use the data in more applications, more frameworks and more open source initiatives. As for elbo.ws it’s on an even simpler more organic level – the data is used to determine the trends – to find the next big thing in music.

There is risk though with all this valuable data gathering reward and that is copyright which Nicola Osborne describes in-depth from Prof. Charles Oppenheim’s webinar. Especially for elbo.ws which unfortunately falls into that category which Prof. Oppenheim describes as those who will be aggressively chased regarding copyright infringement (the music industry is notorious for this). Where elbo.ws circumvents this is that they themselves (the service) do not host any of the songs, videos, images directly on their servers; they are all direct linked to the source – the music blogs. Elbo.ws doesn’t need to request that the blogosphere aka the collective intelligence are not breaching copyright – they are just an aggregator (like a Google in a way). And as long as they are not making money off of other people’s work then there is no real catalyst for forced litigation.

I guess my only criticism is that elbo.ws doesn’t go out of its way to make the data it gathers re-usable or community enhanced; there doesn’t appear to be any open API or any easy access to what elbo.ws has aggregated (RSS I suppose is the only output). There are intergrations through facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc. but that’s almost a given these days.

The data itself though is hard to recreate – you would need to know all of these music blogs and have their administrators add your aggregator site as a ping update. That’s a difficult task and elbo.ws and the hype machine are the only two that appear to be leading the pack in this regard; even then they both target different audiences and aggrgate different content providers. They both have momentum and are running with, as Matt describes the network effect with more prosumers using the service increasing its value. There are a lot of areas of elbo.ws where people are contributing to the service and all the data is still controlled by the users, they still control the access of it (they can request to be added or removed from elbo.ws).

So this unique, hard to recreate source of data – the aggregated blog content – which is enhanced through the user interaction with that aggregated data and the critical mass of similar content published enhances the core data of a single users blog post. This is elbo.ws data strategy – only add quality blogs to the aggregation crawler (and track them on a chart of best blogs to increase the motivation to post popular and high quality content). Elbow.s owns its index of aggregated data and they could, possibly, in the future outsource or supply that data access management for personal gain (though if they were to do this they would be creating a catalyst for litigation as I mentioned earlier).

All in all there is a lot of value within the elbo.ws service and they could be doing more to enhance that content but as I see it they’re just sitting tight for the time being, biding their time.


Denne, R. (2012). Last.fm – The benefits of harnessing collective intelligence, from http://tinyurl.com/7f5swkv

Denne, R. (2012). My thoughts on what is Web 2.0, from http://tinyurl.com/82ly8zg

Matt. (2012). 3 Dividend Payers Benefiting from the Network Effect, from http://tinyurl.com/7g8uu2d

Musser, J. (2012). Open APIs: State of the Market, from http://tinyurl.com/756ecm8

Njl1991 (2012). Data is the new ‘Intel Inside’, from http://tinyurl.com/89vhz2l

Oppenheim, C. and Osborne, N. (2012). LiveBlog: Web 2.0, Creative Commons Licenses and orphan works (RSP webinar), from http://tinyurl.com/88twpjh

Sarielwind (2012). Flickr:Data Is the Next “Intel Inside”, from http://tinyurl.com/7c74tb4