Friday 22 November 2013

Commodity of Power

One of the most significant turning points in the democratization of knowledge has to be the Initial Public Offering of Netscape. The date of August 9, 1995 established the "Netscape Moment" where an unprofitable company jumped to a market value of almost $3 billion in a single day. As the first proprietary web browser, Netscape Navigator didn't just drop out of the sky. Former computer scientist, Jim Clark, founder of several behemoth Silicon Valley technology companies (including Silicon Graphics Computers) recruited a development team for online programming and production. If they hadn't created a browser, they were going to start an online gaming environment. It probably would have been great too (for a while).

Filing for bankruptcy protection several years ago, SGI is now all but forgotten today and so is Netscape, but the technological advancement of those days had the effect of an atomic bomb going off in terms of world communication and information. I don't think we can say the same for Facebook or Twitter or any social networking platform that might go public in the near future.

For those of us who lived through the "dot gone" bubble, even that inflated bogus balloon at least still contained some breath. There was always value there and it's had a dozen years to recover a lot of it. In the world of advertising, however, we keep seeing businesses large and small dropping traditional formulae for print and media buying in favour of free social networking marketing and awareness. Isn't that kind of like being nominated for The Darwin Awards (almost)?

Knowledge and information is a commodity of power. With the tools and weapons currently available, such power can now be controlled by anyone, regardless of cognitive capacity or level of potential. Imagine Galactus with a sparkler versus a nuclear capable Dorothy (from The Wizard of Oz). How do you measure the outcome? Personally, I'm on the side of Galactus. I don't care what he's using. Dorothy is a sweetheart, but I wouldn't put her in charge of my company's future.

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