hello (connected) world

We live in a connected world, now. The web is real-time and social. The physical world of people, places and things is becoming digital, networked, sensate. Computing is a fabric of mobile, embedded and cloud systems woven with data and services. Media flows everywhere, innovation abounds at street-level, and we are all creators, authors, and makers. It’s an exciting time, but also one fraught with complexity and difficult choices for businesses, institutions and individuals.

This journal offers disruptive ideas, spirited perspectives and tools to think with. My goals are to help you make sense of the emerging landscape, engage you in an ongoing conversation about technology, strategy and society, and work with you to envision and build the kind of future we actually want to live in. Please explore the archives, immerse yourself in new ideas, and share your reactions in the comments.



2 Responses to “hello (connected) world”

  1. Tommi Hietavuo says:

    Nowhere else is this big change more evident than in the music industry. What started there is now spreading into other media and other industries; the challenges, the opportunities – and the mistakes.

    Watching, for example, what is going on in eBook business, has made me increasingly worried about all the DRM issues, incompatibility, files that appear and disappear whenever Big Brother decides so, usability problems, etc etc. Like John Fogerty sang it: “it’s deja vu all over again”…

    We only just barely escaped one huge trap some years ago. Some people in the media industry had quite a clever (?) plan with the goal of forcing people under total control using aggressive DRM technologies which had one thing in common: the user, by default, has no rights, unless proven otherwise. What this meant, was essentially that you were “criminal” unless some server somewhere said “no, (s)he’s ok – the file can be used…”

    Most people didn’t then have a clue about what all this really meant for them. Most still don’t. People losing all their legally purchased music when DRM-protected music stores closed should have given a serious warning about what would be – but even the public conversation hushed these scary things down. The discussion was all about poor musicians losing their well-earned money because of the “bad pirates”. Almost nobody talked about the true nature of such DRM and its effect on people’s rights (or lack of them). It was even less politically correct to question the true effects of file sharing and its other effects (like viral marketing, people getting used to certain software they will later purchase legally when they are in working life, etc). There was only one truth: digital future needs DRM and control for everyone’s happiness.

    Fortunately, Sony with their abysmal rootkit-infected CD DRM woke enough people up to realize what was happening. Suddenly people realized that what they thought was their music, wasn’t their music at all. And worse, they had no rights, no control, no nothing. Big Brother had assumed Control.

    So, now we have MP3s and even Apple offers almost DRM-free iTunes music. Fine? Well, yes and no… People who wanted to assume total control over consumers haven’t given up. The same DRM and questionable practices now emerge in eBooks, movies, games, applications, everything. The industry may think it’s necessary businesswise. I doubt that. Trying to control what people use and how they use it has some very serious drawbacks which will backfire the industries quite soon:

    – Even if the EULA says that you have no rights whatsoever, people’s sense of justice doesn’t work like that. If we buy something, we feel we should be able to use it the way we want. Tricking people will backfire sooner or later.

    – Many if not most people want to listen to or read, watch, etc their favorite things not only now, but also in the future. Current subscription and DRM-protected services have no future aspect. There is no chance in hell that the protected movie, song or eBook you buy now, will be usable in 20 years. Or 10. Or maybe even 5 years. 20 year old CDs still work. 40 year old vinyl albums still work – and your grandchildren may see them as treasures. Music, books and movies are all about feeling – and feelings include memories. Memories, collections, etc tend to last, even our lifetime. If the future media business can’t offer anything that lasts longer than a short moment, it will be in trouble.

    I think we’re going to see fierce, bitter fights between the “old ways” of the industries and the new, mobile lifestyle of more and more people. Control vs. openness. Restricting vs. sharing. There will be trouble. But the change is inevitable, I think. It just means that the industries will have to adapt to new kinds of business models. New kinds of service operators will emerge, too, to serve the old business. The change will take maybe 10 years – and the world then will in many ways be quite different from what we see now. :)

    • Gene says:

      Hey Tommi, good to see you man. Amazing commentary too. Disruption is everywhere, and the character of each industry’s leaders will be measured by their response to change. You could probably make a similar argument about global leaders’ response to climate, environmental, health and energy disruption as well.