What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you come across the word “platform”?
For me, there is only one answer: Howrah Station in Calcutta. Where I first learnt the joy of “platform tickets”, the practice of paying to see your family and friends off somewhere, or that of paying to welcome them back. When I was young, we didn’t think twice about piling into a car and taking a long journey (by Calcutta standards in those days), spending interminable amounts of time stuck in traffic crossing the bridge, queueing up to buy said platform tickets, then finally skipping daintily over questionable (and often smelly) wet patches. All for what? For the privilege of being pushed and jostled while waiting for a friend or family member to arrive or depart. We loved it. There was a “just for the crack” carefree madness to much that we did, and I will never forget those days.
Howrah Station platform: Picture courtesy of www.anothersubcontinent.com, a site I wander into every now and then.
Not everyone is as confused as I am. When you see the word platform, perhaps you see what Dave McClure sees:
Dave blogs over at Master Of 500 Hats, another site I wander past every now and then. My thanks to Dave for the illustration.
Maybe you’re not like me, and not like the others either. Maybe you’re like Hugh Macleod, who visualises platforms this way:
Note to self: Never trust a techie who shouts in capital letters…. (and thanks, Hugh)
People mean many things when they use the word “platform”. In days to come, we are going to have to get more and more used to seeing some other terms crowd around the platform. Terms like open and multisided; terms like apps and widgets; terms like community. Older terms like architecture and component and reuse and standardised will still continue, will become even more important, but will have morphed into something less central-control and more democratised.
That’s not going to be easy.
For people who are used to terms like proprietary and business model and billable event, it’s going to be even harder.
But just for now, we don’t have to worry. The path to the platform is blocked, by people fighting over what it means to be private in public.
So if you get bored over the Christmas break, here’s something to ponder about:
What does it mean to be private in public?