Platforms are a bit like Jabberwocky: to paraphrase Alice, they seem very pretty, but they’re rather hard to understand. I chose the songs above for a number of reasons: because I like them; because they answer the question “where” with answers that have to do with much more than just “place”; and because I could demonstrate some of the value of platforms like Wikipedia and Youtube simply and effectively by so doing. [Incidentally, Wikipedia needs your help to stay ad-free. Please donate. Now].
Platforms simplify interactions by removing frictions and latencies. By helping people connect and interact and transact, they exhibit what a good friend, Sheldon Renan, called “netness“. Sheldon describes netness as:
Another way of looking at platforms is by using the metaphor that another good friend, Doc Searls, gave us, when he spoke of the Giant Zero. People use platforms to do things they cannot do as effectively, as quickly or even as enjoyably elsewhere. With as little friction as possible, with the lowest possible latency. Simply. Easily. Where, when and how they want it to be.
Which brings me to my first point:
Platforms enable interactions with a minimum of fuss and bother
Now then. I use Wikipedia to try and explain my references, and use the Web at large when that is not possible. I use YouTube to connect to popular musical performances. I’m interested in many things that are essentially analog in characteristic: books, vinyl albums, photographs, memorabilia, art, recipes, musical instruments, things to do with Calcutta or India or the Raj, scientific instruments, things to do with printing and publishing, cricket, chess, it’s a long list. Those interests mean that I spend time discovering the right platforms: my alphabet goes abebooks, barneby, cricinfo, discogs, epicurious….
Why these particular services? Because they have the right “content”. And that matters. Content matters. When I worked in telcoland, people used to talk about “attach rates”. People tended to buy telecommunications and connectivity products and services from the provider who had the most interesting/compelling/comprehensive content. Which forced telcos to enter the content business or risk being disintermediated and pushed deeper into infrastructure and utility with consequent impact on competitive intensity and margins. Content rightsholders have therefore, not surprisingly, been at the forefront of copyright and intellectual property battles every time a new platform has come along and disrupted the living daylights out of part or all of their business. I say “rightsholders” because the people who get the money aren’t necessarily the people you think get the money. Take the music business for example. Some of you may remember this diagram from The Root a few years ago:
But that’s a whole ‘nother story, saved for another day. Incidentally, I love what I’m hearing about Iron Maiden. They tracked where the illegal downloads were happening: the majority in South America, principally in Brazil. And, as Business Insider put it, quoting Citeworld:
Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in