What is it about?

New research analyses a massive amount of data from across the entire web including over a decade of data from global social media platforms to show that the variety of online economic players is in longtime decline, although the overall size of the worldwide web continues to expand and functional and geographic opportunities continue to grow.

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Why is it important?

This work explores the dynamics of competition in an online world at a massive scale and over a decade. Researchers conducted a multi-year research project revealing global trends in online diversity and dominance. It examined more than six billion user comments from Reddit, as well as 11.8 billion posts from Twitter. The results show a dramatic consolidation of attention towards a shrinking (but increasingly dominant) group of online organisations. The online world is continuously expanding — always aggregating more services, more users and more activity. Last year, the number of websites registered on the “.com” domain surpassed 150,000,000. However, more than a quarter of a century since its first commercial use, the growth of the online world is now slowing down in some key categories.


Inspired in part by ecology – this work illustrates that business world's ‘species diversity’ is now in long term decline, yet at the same time there are also many new functional openings continually emerging with global potential and that are arising out of the digital transformation of the worlds economy.

Professor Paul X. McCarthy
University of New South Wales

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This page is a summary of: Evolution of diversity and dominance of companies in online activity, PLoS ONE, April 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249993.
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