The Network Is The Computer
Remember when Sun Microsystems proclaimed the network to be the computer. Most, upon hearing Sun's new tag line, either yawned or tilted their head and said, "What?"
In this excellent post from Clinton Bonner on the TopCoder blog we see a future of "niche social nets". Bonner uses Spotify's recent modification to allow social tribes to form around a single song to illustrate how, in the not very distant future; the network will be the computer.
Several years ago when I wrote Platforms vs. Websites (http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2011/09/internet-marketing-platforms-vs.html ) I got it half right. The trouble is I didn't go far enough. Platforms like Spotify are really tools that allow other platforms to develop. Bonner notes how a social tribe can form around a single song. Here is a great quote from Bonner's post:
"The center of gravity is no longer wholly Spotify, the service and its tentacles outward to Facebook, but instead, the individual song itself becomes the gravitational pull, inside Spotify. The intention is to drive more focused conversations and mid-thread, peer-to-peer recommendations to occur directly in the individual song thread. Of course, the ultimate intention is to gather ever more accurate data on a gigantic user base, and this social step, is a game-changer in that regard.
In my opinion it’s a natural progression to drive these conversations to the micro-level and it begets better, more specific social content around the original content, the song. Recommendation engines will improve, user experience will be altered positively, and again Spotify will now gain even more user data than before that they can use to monetize in a variety of ways."
As Internet marketers our THINKING must shift from proprietary to collaborative (at least at the information level). I remember asking the owner of a $150M catalog company why we didn't "sell" everything. What I was really asking was why we didn't arbitrage everything since, at least at an information level, there was NO COSTS associated with "selling" one more thing.
The Spotify model improves on that idea. With "niche social nets" is it isn't necessary to even "sell" a single thing because the right platform allows and encourages niche social nets to do almost all the work. One could make a good argument that Scoop.it is to content what Spotify is to music.
Spotify and Scoop.it show that the more intelligently we approach the HOW the more exciting becomes the What and Why. When the network is the computer Internet marketer who can think about INFORMATION as effectively as Spotify and Scoop.it win. Those who can't will be swept from the field.
Kudos to Clinton Bonner for such elegant thinking.