The magical connection called internet change my life forever, the technology and the medium became a tool that dramatically lowered the cost of doing business, but also helped formerly isolated and fragmented audiences for news, social causes and product aggregate into substantial new forces.
The web has deeply woven itself into the world economy that in March 2008, a survey of business leader around the world by the international chamber of commerce found that an internet outage of a single day worldwide would result in major losses and costly damage which would have huge and lasting effects. The internet has not only arrived, but it has touched and changes everything.
Everything it touches
In order to understand how the internet profoundly influences the economy of any segment, consider the music industry and how digital communications is now a part of every aspect of the value chain. At the front end of creativity, it allows artists to find one another jobs board, personal web pages, etc and exchange demo reels. The basic market of choices for consumers has broadened exponentially because any band can publish, distribute and sell its music online without benefit of a promotional conglomerate.
Marketing is no longer controlled and purchased expensively by centralized labels, but can be distributed vitally from fan to fan. Digital distribution online has eliminate the need for costly physical media, shipping and retail outlet. CD sales have plummeted as result, down 21% in the 2007 holiday season alone. Early this year, apple’s online iTunes store became ranked as the largest retail outlet for music in the U.S, behind only wall mart.
From production to marketing, to market choice to purchase and consumption, internet has rearranged an entire media segment and it promises to do the same to TV, film and newspapers, in 2007, newspaper advertising revenue dropped 7.9%, the second worst year in half a century, largely because reader and classified advertising were going online instead.
Internet is such a profound games change in 21st century because is disrupt in same way most of the great game-changing inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries, railroads, mess retail, rapid printing presses, film, radio and TV.
How digitization is bringing the no price model to many industries, internet represents a tectonic shift in cultures fundamentally, 20th century culture was all about scarce distribution, limited shelf space, limited channel, the consequence of scarce distribution was you had to focus on one size fits all, the blockbusters, hits, etc.
Scarce distribution privileges common, shared culture where as infinite shelf space privileges narrow and specific cultures and product. When your cost of distribution falls to zero, you can be indiscriminate about what you offer. The reason you can have an iTunes with infinite number of songs is because the cost of doing so is zero. That is the economics of abundance, anything that touches internet tends to get this, the decreasing cost of everything online.
As much as the internet transforms individual industries one by one, its great effect is global, the ability to reach across border. According to the best estimates, about 20% of the world populations is now connected to the web in same way, a staggering rate of penetration compared to the decades it often took electricity, printing, film, telephones and television to reach in their day.
Clearly, the internet has the power to circumvent existing government and power structures. China famously has required that western internet firm such as Google and yahoo, censor their limitation on free speech and open access to information. Nevertheless as china cracked down on rebellion in Tibet, using internet to maintain chains of communication and citizen reporting from within oppressed regimes has brought a light into these human disaster that no other no virtual medium has been able to achieve. Any regimes, such as china, find itself in a struggle to plug up the countless information leaks the web creates because of its global nature.
Interesting rejoinder to the argument that internet accelerates globalization, some academics contend that internet may not change as much as we would like think. Government censorship and poverty continue to limit access the internet, which only reproduces rather than resolves the old power and economic disparities that preceded the internet.
The poor and oppressed remain disenfranchised, many claim, likewise just as the internet has helped aggregate fragmented markets and give a megaphone to otherwise local and under reported tragedy, it has also become a place where rumor-mongering, conspiracy theorists and bigots can find a supportive and large audience for their socially destructive speech.
The track over 7,000 sites, blogs and even Youtube page that promote and recruit terrorists and hatemonger’s around the world. One of the most dogged trackers of internet hate is the southern poverty law center, which maintains an online Google map of major intolerance groups state by state and report regularly on their web behavior.
One to one, many to many
Ultimately, the internet is simply a tools and much of its power comes from how people elect to use it to advance their economic or social interest, indeed the web has proven so powerful because it is not just one platform, for music, news and political groups of all stripes, it’s a publishing and distribution platform, for retailers, it’s a frictionless sales channel that circumvents costly brick and mortar stores and sales staffs.
But at its core, it’s a revolutionary many to many communications medium. After all, if the internet has had one undisputed kill app, it has been email, a one to one medium that almost all web users use relentlessly and magic connector of the internet. Perhaps the deepest and least quantifiable effect of the internet is in the subtle way it connect people with one another and with their world in new way. Digitization not only removes friction from commerce and distribution, but from activism. For instance, care2.com has an 8 million member social network that signs petitions, donates to charities, and gets involved with everything from global warming awareness to humane associations and civil rights.
The group action without border at idealist.org has been online since 1995 and now aggregates 74,000 social movements and activist groups; the nonpartisan petition.org has literally hundreds of online petitions regarding all kinds of issues for user to support. Because the Net is so many things at once, its greatest power comes when all of these elements join together. A good example of the future impact of the internet is demonstrated by a recent musing, if global warming is the most pressing issue of our day, the internet’s much strength can be used to spread awareness, connect researchers and accelerate research and even actually lower energy consumption.
Virtual zing offices, using web based applications and moving more physical communications processes online can have a demonstrable effect on the emission of greenhouse gases, the strategic use of new internet application and business models can contribute significantly to energy efficiency and sustainable economic growth, as well as job creation.
If we think internet has been a game changer so far, just wait and see what’s coming, internet is a tool that researchers, artist and entrepreneurs can re-imagine in ways we cannot foresee, it’s the lego set for the next century.[ad#adgridwork]