LeoGlossary: Ecosystem (Digital)

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The term ecosystem is used to describe all organisms and the physical environment they are in.

Ecosystems are dynamic entities, controlled by both internal and external factors. Energy, in the natural world, is provided through photosynthesis. From here, all food supplies manifest.

One of the keys is diversity. In the natural environment, a wide range of species exists. They interact based upon their own "programming". This helps the ecosystem to flourish and expand. They are organic in nature while also being extremely complex.

Digital Ecosystems

These are modeled after the natural ecosystems around us.

In the digital realm, competition and collaboration are both present, just like the natural counterpart. Here we see the properties of sustainability, self-organization, and scalability all emerge. It is a socio-technical system whereby the different participants operate according to their own interest, furthering the evolution of the entire system.

The Internet made this concept rather popular. Industries such as entertainment and computers have long thought of things in this manner. It is also a concept that was applied to social media networks.

We could see this concept further enhanced going forward with the evolution of Web 3.0. This is based upon the idea of decentralization, something that is a foundation of natural ecosystems. By using blockchain as the database system, we can see how applications and games built upon it take on a different connotation.

Networks of this nature have the collaborative essence that is sometimes missing within the Web 2.0 landscape. Since ownership of the platforms tends to be a corporation, there are few who have ownership interest. With cryptocurrency tied to a blockchain network, we see how anyone who is holding the coin is in position of having a financial stake in the system.


Digital ecosystems have been around since the early days of the Internet. In the early 1990s, companies like AOL and CompuServe created online communities where users could connect with each other and access information and services. These early digital ecosystems were relatively closed off, but they laid the foundation for the more open and interconnected digital ecosystems that we see today.

The rise of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s led to a proliferation of new digital ecosystems. Companies like Google, Yahoo!, and Amazon created online platforms that allowed users to search for information, shop for products, and connect with others. These platforms were open to anyone who wanted to participate, and they attracted a wide range of users and developers.

In the 2000s, the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter created a new generation of digital ecosystems. These platforms allowed users to share content and connect with each other in new and innovative ways. They also attracted a large number of businesses, which used the platforms to market their products and services.

Today, digital ecosystems are more complex and interconnected than ever before. They include a wide range of participants, such as consumers, businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations. Digital ecosystems are also playing an increasingly important role in the economy, as they enable new forms of innovation and collaboration.

As a concept, the idea of a Digital Business Ecosystem was put forward in 2002 by a group of European researchers and practitioners, including Francesco Nachira, Paolo Dini and Andrea Nicolai.

They applied the general notion of digital ecosystems to model the process of adoption and development of ICT-based products and services in competitive, highly fragmented markets. They used the one in Europe as an example.


Digital ecosystems have evolved over time to become more complex, interconnected, and intelligent.

Early digital ecosystems were relatively closed off and siloed. They were typically dominated by a single platform or company, which controlled the access to and use of the ecosystem. This made it difficult for new participants to join and for innovation to occur.

Modern digital ecosystems are more open and interconnected. They are typically built around a network of platforms and services from different providers. This makes it easier for new participants to join and for innovation to occur.

Another key trend in the evolution of digital ecosystems is the increasing use of big data and artificial intelligence. Big data is being used to collect and analyze vast amounts of data about users and their behavior. This data is then being used to improve the performance of digital ecosystems and to create new products and services.

Artificial intelligence is being used to automate tasks, predict user behavior, and make recommendations. This is helping to make digital ecosystems more intelligent and user-friendly.

Here are some specific examples of how digital ecosystems have evolved:

  • E-commerce ecosystems: In the early days of e-commerce, Amazon was the dominant player. However, in recent years, other players such as Alibaba, Shopify, and eBay have emerged. This has created a more competitive and innovative e-commerce ecosystem.
  • Social media ecosystems: Social media ecosystems were once dominated by Facebook. However, in recent years, other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have gained popularity. This has created a more diverse and dynamic social media ecosystem.
  • Financial ecosystems: Financial ecosystems are also evolving. New players such as fintech companies and challenger banks are offering innovative products and services. This is making financial ecosystems more accessible and affordable for consumers.

Overall, digital ecosystems have become more complex, interconnected, and intelligent over time. This is creating new opportunities for innovation and disruption.

In addition to the trends mentioned above, here are some other factors that are driving the evolution of digital ecosystems:

  • The rise of the cloud: The cloud is making it easier for businesses to develop and deploy new digital services. This is leading to the creation of new digital ecosystems.
  • The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT): The IoT is connecting more and more devices to the internet. This is creating new opportunities for digital ecosystems to collect data and provide insights.
  • The emergence of new technologies: New technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and 5G are enabling new digital ecosystems to emerge.

The evolution of digital ecosystems is still ongoing. It will be interesting to see how these ecosystems continue to evolve in the years to come.


It is likely that the impact of the digital world on humanity will only keep growing. Digital ecosystems are going to include not only humans but automation. The idea of artificial intelligence is already starting to take hold.

In addition to energy, computational power and data are the food for these ecosystems. Each person is generates a massive amount on a daily basis. In addition to being content creators on social media, people also do so by their surfing of the Web or the tracking on their phone.

The ability to monetize these system is starting to take shape. This turns a digital ecosystem into an economy, another ecosystem of sorts. Here is where individuals can actually become businesses. An example is a person who makes a living simply from gaming.


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