Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Managing the Edge, pt 138913

Jarvis follows up on the Post discussion centered around whether there should be an ethic of interactivity (ie, should big media feel obligated to host comments, etc).

It's a good question, and quite a fun dicussion to read - but strategically, I think the Post is asking the wrong question. Media has to ask the right questions if it's ever to break out of deep strategy decay.

What's the right question? Simple: is the edge a source of advantage or not?

Now, I think it should be very intuitive by now that it is. Just consider Wikipedia.

But let me make the argument even more intuitive by drawing an analogy. Consider the Lego Factory a sec, where consumers can upload their designs, and have them produced.

Now, imagine for a sec that I decide to be a massive troll, and I upload a Lego Goatse (why am I sure that one of you guys is actually going to try this and have a Lego Goatse made now...). Is this uncivilized? Sure.

Does it cost Lego something? No! In fact, it benefits Lego: it means the Factory is doing what it was meant to do - vaporize the cost of individualized goods. The larger economics of peer production are still on Lego's side. The Lego Factory is still a powerful source of advantage.

The reason is the same that it is across consumer industries - the deep economics of these industries are shifting. Consumers can coordinate and do productive things incredibly cheaply. For Lego, it's product design. For newspapers, it's fact-checking, commentary, editing, etc...

So media should start from the perspective that the edge is a powerful source of value creation. From there, discussions about how best to regulate conversations, etc, are relevant.

But to think that it's an ethical or moral responsibility is to miss the seismic shifts in industry structure that make leveraging the edge a deeply dominant strategy.

-- umair // 10:35 PM // 2 comments


I don't disagree but just to get my intent straight:
You are writing from a business perspective. I was writing this from a journalistic perspective. And I was talking not just about comments, per se, but about interactivity. Because mass media did not interact before; they treated the public as a mass and separated themselves from it. How absurd to think that you could serve the public without interacting with that public. How absurd, too, that you could think that you actually knew more than that public when your real job is to help that public share what they know.
So I would argue that we both have the right questions.
I'm asking, what is the right thing to do.
You're asking, what is the smart thing to do.
And the answer is the same: Interact!
// Blogger Jeff Jarvis // 10:50 AM

Hey Jeff,

You are exactly right. In my original post, I implied you were saying the opposite, when you were the guy in the discussion saying *to* interact.

This is because the post was written in about 30 secs so was badly worded - I edited to change; sorry about that :)

I think this is best way I have heard to put it so far actually -

"...that you could think that you actually knew more than that public when your real job is to help that public share what they know."
// Blogger umair // 11:02 AM

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