The Flattening Earth and the Live Web
July 6, 2007
This interview got me thinking about the myriad ways that the net has changed the world. This tends to be something of a pet topic of mine.
“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.”
If you are not familiar with the Cluetrain, it consists of 95 theses challenging the old ways of thinking – marketing and business strategies prior to the emergence and growth of the web. However, it is so much more than that, so you should really go read it, especially if you are involved in any kind of marketing (and if you really think about it, who isn’t trying to market something in some way, shape, or form?).
On to my thoughts:
The Internet as a Public Good
First of all, Doc says that the internet belongs to everyone and it shouldn’t be a service bundled into a package with cable TV and a phone landline, but rather “the Net itself remains as it was designed to be in the first place: a simple set of ways to connect devices over any distance with as close to zero cost and hassle as possible, and with minimal interference from the companies that own the ‘pipes’. If we were to write Cluetrain today I’m sure we would make a strong case for regarding the Internet as a public good with enormous “because effects.” That is, far more money would be made because of it, rather than with it.”
Of course, people would still need a way to connect to the net (computers, PDAs, etc.), but the foundation of the idea is here: the people built the web, it belongs to us, and companies like Comcast just own the delivery system. The idea that the cable and telephone companies could possibly control what we put on the web, what we do with it, and what we use it for, is simply preposterous (read more about network/net neutrality here).
The Live Web versus Static Web
I also can appreciate Doc’s thoughts on Web 2.0 and social media, two of the current hot buzzwords (hey, I’m guilty of using them too), and he makes the distinction between the “live web” and the “static web”. Social networking and media sites, including blogs (actually, especially blogs) are the components of the live web; the static web is about domain names and constant, unchanging content (more on the static and live web here).
In a way, the live web is really the current evolutionary state of what the world wide web was originally conceived as – “a way to share, edit, (and comment on) documents that we write and publish”. It is chronology and syndication based, although “tagging” content is quickly becoming an integral part of the live web as well.
The World is Flat
Doc predicts that the web will continue to break down walls and change the world, and mentions a favorite book of mine: The World is Flat. I credit that book, among other resources, for really opening my eyes and hitting me over the head with something I was semi-aware of all along – that technology was changing the world and the future belongs to the people who can understand, adapt to, and leverage that change.
“The walls of business will come down. That’s the main effect of the Net itself. Companies are people and are learning to adapt to a world where everybody is connected, everybody contributes, and everybody is zero distance (or close enough) from everybody else. This is the “flat world” Tom Friedman wrote “The World is Flat” about, and he’s right.”
In conclusion, it’s really really exciting to be involved in the all-inclusive community that’s changing the world.