Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Industry Note: Power to the People
"...Comrades, working people! Remember that now you yourselves are at the helm of state. No one will help you if you yourselves do not unite and take into your hands all affairs of the state.... Get on with the job yourselves; begin right at the bottom, do not wait for anyone."
Lenin said that, at the dawn of the revolution.
The sentiments should be very familiar - they are those expressed by an growing number of folks across media (and consumer industries in general).
Here, I don't mean people who've thought things through, like Jarvis, etc - I mean the average schmoe, whose simplistic belief in this set of anti-ideas is starting to really take root.
This is the "power to the people" question (which I get at least once a day - an irate person veering into my field of view, hell-bent on telling me that the bottom-up media revolution can lead to nothing but anarchy or fascism, you know the score).
So let me try and clarify.
The great Communist experiment is an almost perfect analogy to draw. In both cases, we are talking about redefining the institutions, the raw economics engines, which define a given thing - a society, and an industry.
The lesson we should take away is that the next generation of revolutionaries will find ways to synthesize the bottom up and the top down, to create new kinds of economic engines (AdWords, Myspace, etc).
It is about power to the people, in other words - but that's not all it's about. That's often simply a starting point. Without the special stuff on top to make that power productive, hyperefficient, etc, that power alone is more harmful than beneficial to society (not to mention profitable for firms).
What's really exciting, political analogies aside, is that people have such a power way to broadcast their creativity in this newly forming world.
Seeing volcanic, high-output creators having the ability now to take their output to the rest of us, for almost no costs = awesome. Repeat, credible and 'real deal' innovators are where the new media rewards are as opposed to the more traditional home-run seeking media model.
As an example, IMHO, BubbleGen has much more of an impact on the movement of business than Amazon's latest best selling business book (boy, glad I don't own it, author starts with a T).
"the next generation of revolutionaries will find ways to synthesize the bottom up and the top down, to create new kinds of economic engines" - right! Bottom up only is not enough. That's one big lesson learned from communist experiments.