Pictures and words: musing about open multisided platforms

Over the last two years, I’ve been continuing with my research into open multisided platforms, particularly with a view to building community with them.

I’ve been privileged over the years to be associated with openadaptor, tiddlywiki and web21c; from the earliest moment I’ve tried to learn how to get out of the way and stay out of the way, while somehow remaining accountable. Sometimes I think we need a new term to describe the sort of soft-hands leadership required; the last time I tried, the best I could do was “tangential management”. But that’s another story.

I continue to think about open multisided platforms, and I’m sure there’s a lot I will learn in the process, particularly as friends and colleagues point me at people to talk to, books to read, articles to ponder over, sites to visit. And this has been happening.

For many years, it was hard to talk about open multisided platforms. Open source people don’t go looking for monetisation models, they solve problems. They make shoes, not money. So it was with open platforms. Whenever you mentioned them in conversation, the first question was not about the community but about the business model. And when you mentioned meta-models built around the community, in fact often built by the community, there was wailing and gnashing and glazings over. Which sort of killed the conversation.

Things have become a lot easier. Firstly, people are more willing and able to understand the importance of community, and of second-order business models built around the emergent community. But secondly and more importantly, articles like Better Than Free have helped remove the scales from their eyes (thank you Kevin Kelly).

Nowadays, when people talk about platforms, it is hard to avoid mentioning what’s been happening with Microsoft and Yahoo and Google. And it always reminds me of these three pictures I saw in an article by Henry Blodget. Read the whole article, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t agree with some of it.

They tell quite a story, don’t they? It’s going to be interesting, moving from the lock-in world to the open multisided world, a journey we have only just begun to take. A high-stakes table, as the charts above show.

One thought on “Pictures and words: musing about open multisided platforms”

  1. Why compare a service for finding information to a product for making documents? It’s like comparing the Bell Yellow Pages to the IBM Selectric typewriter.

    Does having access to Google mean that people buy less office machinery?

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