are not goodWhy 6174? Read this article. I love the symmetry and chaos of numbers, and have been entranced by Kaprekar’s constant ever since I heard about it, too many decades ago. You could say that for four-digit numbers, when you apply Kaprekar’s operation, all roads lead to 6174. Which is the way I feel about “content” right now; we appear to be on a major collision course, and the omens are not good.
Why do I say this?
I’ve finally finished watching Larry Lessig speak at 23C3, the preferred abbreviation for the 23rd Chaos Communications Congress. Here’s a link to the video. Exhilarating. If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to watch the clip; but make time for it, he speaks for about 45 minutes, and then there’s nearly half an hour worth of questions, including a very interesting discussion with someone I’ve assumed is John Perry Barlow.
Separately, I’ve finally finished reading Patricia Seybold’s latest book, Outside Innovation. I’d considered buying it, but something held me back. Then Gordon Cook reminded me, and so I looked again. Gordon knows what makes me tick, so I listen. And when I looked again, and saw that John Seely Brown recommended it, I had to read it. I’d read a telephone directory cover to cover if it came recommended by JSB. Seriously. The power of recommendations held by people you trust….
Seybold’s book is excellent, a good and honest structured look at what companies are doing to co-create value with their customers. Real companies, real customers, real takeaways. Maybe it was the effect of having watched Larry’s talk prior to reading the book, but the word “content” kept bouncing off the page and hitting me. I don’t particularly like that word.
And then it made me think.
So there’s a bunch of people who are building fortresses around “content”, using DRM and IPR and whatever other flag of convenience they want to fly under. For the sake of argument, let’s say they are all clustered around the slogan:
Content is King
Now I abhor most of the attempts by people to implement bad DRM and legislate for bad IPR, but I am always happy to pay for value received from someone who creates something. The basis and method of payment cannot be what it has been, but fundamentally I agree with “creativity is king” so I accept, grudgingly, that “content” has some power. I still don’t like the word though.
There’s another bunch of people who are walking around with a different mantra. Maybe some of them have even read Cluetrain. One way or the other, they’re into post-Nader consumerism, and they walk around saying:
The Customer is King
Now I’ve read Cluetrain, just once or twice :-) — and even without reading it, I would have no hesitation in agreeing that “the customer is king”.
We have group A marching to Content is King.
We have group B marching to Customer is King.
So far so good.
Content is King.
Customer is King.
Content is King.
Customer is King.
Look carefully, and you will notice something weird about groups A and B.
Many people belong to both groups.
God’s in His Heaven, and All’s Well with the World.
Along comes group C, and they march to the sound of a different drummer. Syncopation? Their mantra is:
Consumer-Generated Creativity is King
Or, to use the words I detest, Consumer-Generated Content is King.
Whoops again. That’s not the tune that Content is King is played to. That’s not the tune that DRM is played to. That’s what ASCAP didn’t figure out; that’s how BMI walked in, so eloquently described by Larry.
There’s a train crash a-coming.
Only the customer can make content king. We must all remember that.