Web 2.0: A New Economic System?
Observers who study and research culture — anthropologists and those that focus on cultural or social aspects of this discipline — have a method and a rigor that help them to see what others don’t. Howard Rheingold is just such a person and this Business Week interview (from August of 2004 I might add) hints at what I and others are talking about with Web 2.0: a new economic system is emerging.
From the interview:
Q: What will all those trends (open source, Wikipedia, Google page ranking, Amazon’s recommendation engine and user reviews) produce ultimately?
A: All these could dramatically transform not only the way people do business, but economic production altogether. We had markets, then we had capitalism, and socialism was a reaction to industrial-era capitalism. There’s been an assumption that since communism failed, capitalism is triumphant, therefore humans have stopped evolving new systems for economic production.
But I think we’re seeing hints, with all of these examples, that the technology of the Internet, reputation systems, online communities, mobile devices — these are all like those technologies…that made capitalism possible. These may make some new economic system possible.
This is worth stopping and thinking about since it informs what I do for my work…and should inform everything you do regardless of your business or organizational bent. As you look at what you’ve made money at in the past — especially if you’ve made really great gross margins opening yourself up to potentially be disrupted out of business — this idea of mass collaborating with the connected world’s free effort and energy is either disturbing or liberating. Depends on your view.
I’m not an economist nor an anthropologist. I’m not a meteorologist either but I don’t need the weatherman to tell me the sun is shining. What *is* important to me is to tap into the observational knowledge of people with the skills and tools who can predict with some level of certainty what might happen (it’s why satellite imagery, weather pattern measurements, modeling and Doppler radar have given meteorologists pretty damn good predictive analytical tools).
Howard Rheingold is one such observer. Another is Yochai Benkler, professor of Law at Yale and author of The Wealth of Networks and the paper Coase’s Penguin. A third is Don Tapscott who recently released his solid overview entitled, Wikinomics. If you’re a leader in your company or organization — or want to be one — I’d heartily recommend you get your head around the concepts and arguments these three (and others) have been seeing and bringing forth for some time. Your future depends on it.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.