Athleon's guilty of it too...we like the word empower.
Empower is a very dangerous word. Empower means to equip or supply with an ability. Empower means you are giving me the power or authority to do something. The problem I find with more and more people using the word empower is that...well...we don't need the power you're giving us. I'm a very selfish web user. I only post things for people that I know...I'm not a big sharer of information for the masses (until I started blogging of course...but in my case the masses just don't know about me yet).
Many new sites are empowering people to share stuff. They're failing because the majority of people don't particularly want to share stuff. They're forgetting that people tend to operate under the 'what's in it for me' mindset.
You empower me to share information about my favorite restaurants with others...but what's in it for me? You empower me to share my essays with other students online....but what's in it for me? You empower me to share cool blog posts I find ...but what's in it for me?
Seriously, what's in it for me?
MySpace- started with bands. Bands, from top 10's to garages, can easily showcase their music and a bit about themselves...obvious benefit
Facebook- find out things about people/share things about yourself easily with people who you might see everyday on campus and no one else. Keep in touch with your friends from high school who are at other universities. Major benefit...though there's a bit of magic behind it as well
You Tube- watch clips of stuff online (this is what's in it for me...and with content rejection it's starting to die off). Ever hear of Lazy Sunday? Easily post videos places that you feel like posting them. "Dude, did you see that SNL skit last night? No..oh, go check it out on YouTube." Benefit worth sharing
Del.icio.us- organize my bookmarks...I'm willing to bet the sharing came in later. Benefit of organization.
So, before you build something that empowers me to share something...tell me what's in it for me. Empower me to do something that I want to do.