The battle on network neutrality and a free, open Internet as we know it today, is a conflict between two markets, two cultures:
- One where people want to provide, communicate, share and modify information products freely.
- One where government and commercial interests want to own, sell and control the dissemination of information products.
The cultural industries have traditionally seen the market participants as producers and consumers: Active, culture-creating producers on the one hand and passive culture consumers on the other. A more modern approach in the information society has been to affirm also a third category – the “prosumer” – i.e. that they can flow together in one person and everyone has more or less a creative role in cultural development.
For instance, file sharers can be seen as marketers instead of “pirates”. Bloggers, and indeed anyone who communicates, produce knowledge at some level and thus change the original information by applying it into a new context. The communication material itself is often remixed and blended with new material. Communication and processing of information is a basic human need. In fact, this is how all innovation, creation and human culture is being developed. It’s a matter of cultural evolution – and “remix”.
Professor Lawrence Lessig (Law Schools of Harvard and Stanford), one of the world’s leading authorities on digital culture, defines this the “Read / Write culture” and argues that this is our natural state for cultural creativity and communication – as opposed to the “Read Only culture” that the commercial industry, together with governments and legislators have designed for the markets in the 20th century.
What happens in a world where not only hardware but also software, information, has become goods and private property protected by mechanical licence and intellectual copyright? Well, these ownership interests hinder further innovation, communication and cultural creativity.
The analog world of audio, video and text have become digital. Computers make it possible to represent the analog data in binary digital code which enables the production of exact copies at almost no cost. The emergence of the Internet made it possible to link all the world’s computers, desktop and mobile devices, into one single global machine where these digital copies of audio, video and text can be re-copied and distributed in enormous editions – at almost no cost.
Internet and the digital technology have had the following effects on the market:
- the production of content to a smaller cost
- inflation in the supply
- decrease in value due to greater supply than the demand
On the Internet, most information practically flows freely and can be consumed for free. Industries that were operating in a market with business and distribution models built around the control of analog products, have lost control in the digital age. Also, with the Internet, the “read only culture” of the 20th century has returned to become more of a “read / write culture” through the prosumers frequent dissemination and processing of information material.
This has led to a situation where many companies and industries worldwide are working to get politicians to legislate for regulations of how people may use the Internet and to implement monitoring tools for mass surveillance of Internet users. Something which has resulted in a mass-criminalisation of a majority of Internet users, not only when it comes to file sharing, but also for producing web sites and blogging with the re-publication of copyrighted material in the form of text, sound and image – or simply by e-mailing such materials to each other.
One of the most criticized bills that are up for decision by US authorities right now is the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP act. Companies like Yahoo are protesting by leaving the Chamber of Commerce. Apparently, Google is considering doing the same.
In this video, you can get a brief introduction to what this is all about (4 min):
A research project at Lund University, “Cybernorms“, is now exploring the sociology of law and norm creating processes that appear in the wake of the changing information technology. History has shown that it is practically impossible to stop people from sharing and communicating copyrighted information material illegally, despite the fact that the industry lobbyists, government and judicial system has made it clear that this behavior is criminal.
New services and technologies for sharing information pops up all the time and it is also possible to encrypt the information / communications so that the police cannot monitor the Internet users’ activities. If Internet is regulated, the spreading of information will simply continue on the “sneakernet“.
What does this mean for artists, creators and innovators? The hub of the cultural industries? Will they be able to make a living out of their creativity without revenues?
Will the artistry, design, production and innovation disappear?
Those innovators who have a genuine need to resolve problems, improve and create new things; those creators who have a genuine passion for the executant role of producing; and those artists who have a genuine need to express themselves and communicate, does not have monetary compensation as their initial incentive and driving force. The primary satisfaction for this group lies in the successful implementation of an idea (which is generally based on the ideas of others, there is no solitary genius) and getting a public response to their performance. Provided that these people can live on an income from other sources, they will to the extent it is possible exercise their creativity.
But for these players to be able to live and build a business of their creative activities, revenues are required. In the digital age, cultural entrepreneurs as well as others will need to create new business models, identify new possible value flows and revenue streams that make it possible to conduct business with the Internet as a tool. It’s nothing new. It has been the same for all entrepreneurs throughout the history.
As an entrepreneur you mustn’t fight the market, you have to understand, accept and adopt in order to operate with the Internet’s organisational properties.
These are characterized by:
1) Open Space Technology – Internet is, as opposed to a hierarchical structure, a heterarchical structure in terms of organization of human communication. It is a “same level playing field” where you may surf around in the amount of information freely and learn, contribute or surf on. The Internet is self-organizing as the user connects, create and share materials.
2) Open Source – As soon as information is digitized it becomes possible to access to the source code and copy information.
3) Open Innovation – As soon as information is released on the Internet, others be able to modify and develop it further.
Assuming that the forces which are fighting to prevent the above features doesn’t succeed, these will be the basic characteristics of the Internet as a market.
Throughout history, man’s technological development have influenced social culture. From the centrally controlled organizations of the ancient institutions – from pharaohs to emperors, the church and the monarchs to major corporations in the modern market economy – we have gradually seen the rise of more mature models and tools for organisations allowing for people to develop careers in a more decentralized, deregulated market economy with open innovation processes in distributed networks. As long as the base of a pyramid that distributes power is greater than the top, the Internet as we now know it – under democratic conditions – will remain. Older generations of decision makers will retire and leave room for new generations of decision makers imprinted by new values in the Internet era. CEO’s in the top level management who are aware of the ongoing changes and smart enough to bring in expertise within modern enterprise architecture, will have a better chance to adjust their organisations and policies to attract and recruit the crucial talents for future business.
Innovation Management is therefore a key to success for an entrepreneur in today’s democratised, dynamic, digital and globalized high-speed economy. But as we have touched upon, the motivation to adapt to a new market paradigm rarely happens top-down from people protecting their existing privileges for power and control in traditional silo systems of line management models. It naturally comes from beneath, from new entrants seeking to establish themselves.
So innovators, creators and artists who want to become successful in the age of the Internet, needs to model an enterprise architecture for their business and organize in a way where they can operate on this new market and take advantage of the Internet and its users.
Business architecture can be described as “A blueprint of the enterprise That Provides a common understanding of the organization and ice Distressed to align Strategic Objectives and tactical demands.”
Exactly how this should be modeled varies individually from case to case and is about identifying the key drivers for the specific business. It usually starts with the famous W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why and hoW – a concept in news research and police investigations regarded as basics in information-gathering.
The world is still in its tentative first steps when it comes to optimising a business architecture for the Internet age. You will have to face that you are part in pioneering a new paradigm. So, for further training, I have compiled some important videos you should see in order to keep up with contemporary developments in this field and in society in general (Do you have more tips? Please drop me a line in the comment section below!):
An entertaining demonstration of what business architecture is about (2 min):
Methods to organize your company for the 21st Century – Gary Hamel, one of today’s most influential business thinkers (4 minutes):
How to Innovate your Business Model:
Freemium – The First Business Model of the 21st Century by Chris Anderson (Author of the famous book “The Long Tail”):
Lawrence Lessig on digital business model:
Lawrence Lessig at TED – “How creativity is being strangled by the law”:
Lessig at Google Talk – “How Money Corrupt Congress – and a Plan to Stop It”:
Lawrence Lessig at TED – “Re-examining the remix”:
Lawrence Lessig – “Two Things, Not One”:
Forrester Research – Enterprise Architecture And Innovation:
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