More recently, Clay Shirky (author of the bestselling business books, Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus) summed this all up simply by saying that the concept of publishing has shifted from a complex business process to simply being a button. It's humbling to think of just how quickly the Internet and digitization of the publishing industry changed everything.
People were publishing online journals and creating communities around very obscure areas of interest. Back then, I could have never imagined that thousands of people (each and every day) would be interested in my musings about the marketing and communications industry. If you take a step back and read the classic business book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, you'll note that the authors of that book (Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger), were setting the stage for a world that was open, where markets were truly conversations, and people's content was just as (if not more) relevant than what we were getting from the traditional mass media.
As with all good (and open) things, when corporate America caught wind of the rising popularity of these channels, they swooped in. They tried to commercialize it and capture it for their own bidding.Aren't we more open than ever before? While people are sharing more personal information online than ever before (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and online dating sites), we're also seeing a world where the dominant players are creating nothing more than what many see as another "walled garden."
It would be well-worth arguing that the newer channels (look to Facebook, Google or Apple for more clues) make the Internet portals of yesteryear seems like open source, when you start scratching beneath the surface to realize just how closed these environments truly are. Just last week, there were many indicators of this world getting more closed. We had Facebook launch their own app center. By forcing websites to build in-Facebook apps, the online social network is able to keep consumers locked in on Facebook, without ever leaving. Rumours also began to swirl that Apple would be announcing its own mapping engine at its next event and removing Google Maps as their default search for location. There are news announcements happening like this on a more frequent basis.
Part of this is a bigger/newer trend that we're starting to see: brands that are selling both products and services that are intertwined. An iPhone is useless without iTunes and the digital content to put on it. It's much easier to get trained on your iPhone by the people at Apple and buy your post-purchase care from them as well. The other major digital players are quickly following suit.
Yet, with that great experience, many people are beginning to see the challenges of closed environments as well (control of data being one of the major issues). Just ask anyone who has an e-book reader and can't share and exchange books between platforms or even copy and paste components of the content for their own use.We initially thought that the Internet was an open platform, but is it too closed? What do you think?