This is the best blog post I’ve read in a long time.
Some choice quotes to whet your appetite:
The spacial assumption we imposed on the web — that a site is a discrete experience that a publisher can control — maps with both a human need to impose hard edges on a dynamic, complex system but also with how we have understood media for the past 100 years or so.
Openness of interface, api's — letting data come in an go out of a domain is central to this thesis.
John’s post really got me thinking. I agree with all of his ideas about opening platforms and piping data out, but I wonder about the difficulties of making a business out of an open platform.
I guess I can imagine some ways twitter might monetize their platform: compete with cell carriers by charging Madison Square Garden with a promotional @twitter handle for a particular concert (or concert series) that is much cheaper than licensing a text-messaging short code from a cell carrier. A business might want to use this short code to take song requests at a concert, have a live discussion about the Emmies, or conduct virtual debate about the upcoming election. I guess the model would be similar to Google App-Engine’s—twitter is free for the small people, but costs money for a company that wants to do a lot of traffic or use it for a commercial purpose.
I wonder, though, how other web services would monetize open platforms. Facebook says they don’t want to pipe their data out because of privacy concerns: while I understand that privacy is a very difficult problem, sharing data with granular privacy control is Facebook’s core business and if anyone should be able to figure it out, it should be them. More likely, they have ad-revenue concerns that prevent them with piping data out.
What are your thoughts on turning open platforms in general into legitimate businesses, given that piping data out will severely cut into ad revenue? Perhaps ad revenue is a bad model for social services to begin with? Since people are not in “search mode,” as they are on google, they will be less likely to click on or even notice ads. If banner advertising is not a good way to monetize a social service, then what alternatives are better? Selling analytical data to marketing companies? Is that enough?
John’s post provoked mostly questions without answers from me, but if you have thoughts post them in the comments.
( To see some examples of what John’s talking about, check out his portfolio companies at betaworks.com )