Intro to Networked Collaboration

Comments on Long-tail and Cluetrain

I really enjoyed reading these again.

Long-tail is really an inspiration, and I am working with publishers and other content people to help them understand the concepts and figure out how to use Google Book Search, or Live Book Search and semantic tagging to reach that untapped market that is doing searches for obscure topics online. I know from my publishing days that the back-list carries the House and getting just another one of those almost out of print and completely amortized books sold can really stack up new revenues with like 80% margin!

It is also a big hope of mine that lots of Americans will learn how to tap into the long-tail to develop their own quirky niche product businesses to free themselves from ‘dependency’ on corporate jobs.  I love that, we used to be ‘dependent’ on the welfare state or some such, but now we need to fix our dependency on corporate jobs which is really unhealthy for family life and lots of other life related factors! We really have to get over that as a nation, and take back capitalism for the citizens!

Web, search and the long-tail really eliminate the reasons for growth of corporations in the first place. Distribution networks, supply chains, vertical and horizontal integration, capital risk, etc etc.  Now, we can find each other, source components, work collaboratively and virtually with no overheads, ship our stuff around without needing a big company behind us to buy a lot of capital intensive stuff.  Use the LLC or the LLP, or the cooperative legal forms for ourselves.  We can truly capitalize on our ideas, Intellectual Property, talent for discovering and meeting unmet needs, marketing, etc. to make little businesses for ourselves and the ones we love (or love to work with!). YEAH! This cuts into the stuff Cluetrain covers on de-skilling. I am all for ‘re-skilling’ and getting the value-add pay-off back to the producer, creator and innovator, not the financial engineer who has frankly blown it (but he had a good century plus run)!

Cluetrain was one of our inspirations at work back in like 2000!  I always enjoyed it and looked forward to the day when it is real.  I knew back then that eventually businesses would become like publishers and start to give lots of content to their customers and also eventually network people together to simulate what happens at conferences, and change the way selling and service happens. This is a real way to facilitate a market place.

My favorite part are references to ‘convivial communities’ or ‘knowledge ecologies’ and how we can get collaborative technologies to facilitate those. That is what I am waiting for and want to be a part of. This kind of thing is already transforming new product development and innovation with great results for smart companies.

I totally like Cluetrain, although some of the historic references like to industrial revolution, or the whole history of spice trades, caravans, etc to be a bit simplistic and not very well informed.

There were dozens of models of ‘horseless carriages’ before the Model T ever came on the market.  By then, Ford knew that three wheeled cars with rudders steering them from the back were not going to work, or that stainless steel was not the right material to use, or that windscreens were needed to keep mud off the passengers. A whole lot was figured out by the time Ford made is four wheel, four door with steering on the left hand side, windshield in the front, etc.  The big point was it was cheap, so if wasn’t differentiated because they were moving up the curve to later adopters. The early adopters had played around with these cars for years, and it was the crossing the chasm part that Ford got right. Those principles still hold true today in software or any other technology product.

The references to Marx are just too glib. Marx was way before Taylor and Ford, and the ‘distrust’ between workers and managment was already a big deal way back in Victorian times. Charles Dickens stories and the lives of the kids in David Copperfield, debtors prisons, orphanages, work houses, etc are a great illustration of this. Those conflicts were way in place already in Europe when Marx wrote his books.  There were already dehumanising and debilitating fabrics mills in France, England, Holland when the Pilgrims came here in the early 1600s. My ancestors were weaving linen in workshops already in France and Germany by the late 1500s.  Marx wrote to respond to those conflicts which had spread all around Europe in lots more industries by 1800s when he wrote.  Taylor and Ford came way later in the US in the 20th Century.

But, it is certainly true that today, we have a lot more tools and capabilities for differentiation and mass customization, and opportunities for us to be more productive and satisfied, and engaged in meaningful creative work with the rewards accruing directly to us.  That is the promise of the future for us. Long-tail and search, and maybe some of the collaborative networking stuff emerging will help us realize that promise. Can’t wait.

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October 30, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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