Four Pillars: Thinking about Empires: Open and closed information

You may have read my previous post on Google versus Microsoft. I wish I could link to the whole article and share it with you, but it’s been DRMed out of existence. The link to the teaser stub is to be found here. You may prefer to read the firecat, a special report on Google in the same issue, which for some reason is OK for me to share. To be found here. The special report is worth reading, but how I wish I could reproduce the entire leader as well.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

In my previous post I averred that Google and its ilk will succeed because of their adherence to community standards, rather than despite those standards.

Yes, I do own up to using the phrase “pinko technologies” when talking about social software. [Thanks Andrew !] But that doesn’t mean that my assertion was just a cheap shot at Microsoft.

It’s more important than that.

When we started getting real traction with blogs at the bank, one of the key questions that came up was whether we should keep blog content open or closed.

And I had a very strong hunch that we had to start with everything being open, and then  selectively closing bits as needed, in order to comply with chinese walls, prevent market abuse, respect customer confidentiality and good things like that. This was generally accepted and so it happened that way.

Start with open. Then close only when absolutely needed. This is no longer about operating systems or architectures, about protocols, about standards.

It is about information.

It is what Four Pillars is about.

It is what this blog is about.

We cannot possibly justify even using terms like “data mining” or “enterprise applications integration” in this day and age; these are constructs of closed-closed-closed approaches to walled garden design and build. And not even elegant ones at that. we have to do these things only as a result of prior bad decisions. Decisions involving building walls around our own information. Decisions we should not be repeating.

It’s our information.

As we move towards greater co-creation, as we accelerate towards better remakes of IPR, we need to bear this in mind. Information must start open. And then get closed only when it’s an imperative.

I am not surprised that “Google’s market share in search has fallen from a high of around 80% to around 50% today”, as the Economist states in its article. Google can remain market leaders even if their share falls to 15%. Why? Because the world of information is still growing exponentially as people mash and rip and co-createl. And exciting things are happening in search, reasons to be cheerful. We will have specialist blog search tools. We will have specialist image search tools. We will have specialist video search tools. Not all these will be Google. Very few of these will be Google.

And I don’t think Google are upset about it. Which is good. If they succeed with generic search (which they have) and either Gmail (which looks good) or Google Maps (which looks better) or Google Earth (which looks even better) then they will be able to go after mobility plays.

And their approach to innovation will mean that they’re only as good as their next Beta from their Lab. Which is great. Probably what keeps them motivated. Staying ahead by doing new things, challenging competition, not suppressing it.
As the Economist leader points out, Google has strong competition in pretty much every field they’re in. Which, according to many experts, keeps them on their toes and healthy and all that.

It’s not about the competition. It’s about intent. Intent to coexist with other participants in an ecosystem.

When I can’t find a flickr reference via google; when I can’t find a youtube reference via google; then I will begin to worry. Maybe.
Remember that Four Pillars support something. They are a means and not an end.

I promised a recap. Next recap tomorrow.

[Even if Liverpool lose to West Ham. I hope they don’t. I predict 3-1 to the ‘Pool.]

Let me know what you think

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