Posts tagged facebook
Posts tagged facebook
The founders made about $1.19 billion. Other investors made billions more. Even eBay gets a couple billion.1 The whole team now has more capital and more resources, which is good for the company and by extension the users (assuming Microsoft doesn’t ruin it). Facebook will likely benefit from the sale too. The only one who lost is Microsoft — to the tune of $8.5 billion.
Lewis Hyde’s new book is about the nature of ideas, and how they improve with use. It turns out that anyone who produces a totally new idea, something completely out of thin air, is unlikely to be a productive artist and a lot more likely to be seen as a total loon. Every artist builds on what came before. Ben Franklin, Bill Shakespeare, Alexander Graham Bell, Martin Luther King Jr., Shepard Fairey, Ricky Jay, Maya Angelou—all thieves.
-Seth Godin on originality.
An idea is only the first step to invention.
An idea is just one element of a long process, and execution is equally, if not more, important. A few months ago I bookmarked a great reddit comment on this topic, from lastsynapse: “Ideas are cheap. Implementing them to success is the hard part.” Anyone can come up with an idea, but not anyone can make it a reality. That’s why many startups fail; not because the idea is necessarily bad, but because they give up, or lose momentum, or stop due to countless other rationales unrelated to the reason they originally started, that is, an idea.
An idea is only as good as its execution, and sometimes the best way to ensure an idea fulfills its potential is to let it go.
To modify a film cliché, if you truly love an idea, then you have to set it free.2
The concept that ideas are more powerful when shared is the philosophy behind open source software, Creative Commons, and other liberal licenses; and the “free culture” movement as a whole. As Chris Anderson says, “Ideas are the ultimate abundance commodity… Once created, ideas want to spread far and wide, enriching everything they touch” (Free: The Future of a Radical Price, p. 83). Those who are truly creative often have more ideas than time, and giving some away is the only option for them to be realized. Before the Internet, traditional economics taught us to protect what we have, but, especially in the digital world, that’s not necessary, or feasible.3
George Bernard Shaw explains the power of sharing ideas very well:
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
Another relevant quote, from IMDb: “Look, a guy who builds a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who ever has built a chair. They came to me with an idea, I had a better one.” In my view, the main issue with Facebook’s founding is not where the idea came from, but the fact that Mark Zuckerberg continuously misled the “Winklevoss twins” about his work for them before launching thefacebook.com instead. ↩
William Melton explains the incorrect assumption of traditional economics in Chapter 3 of The Future of Money in the Information Age: “In traditional economics we assumed, for simplicity of discussion, that there was a finite amount of goods and services available in the marketplace. I take issue with this mechanistic assumption of finite market limits. Is there a limit to the number of songs that can be produced or enjoyed? Are the number of ideas that can be thought finite? Are the number of computer programs to be written finite? Are ideas about efficiency itself finite? I would argue, no, there is an infinite progression, and therefore potentially an infinite supply of goods and services.” ↩
Jef Raskin in The humane interface: new directions for designing interactive systems on the power of modelessness and monotony (two principles that heavily influenced Notational Velocity's development):
If I am correct, the use of a product based on modelessness and monotony would soon become so habitual as to be nearly addictive, leading to a user population devoted to and loyal to the product.
I think this explains the status Notational Velocity has reached, and devices like Apple’s iPhone as well.
Online, I want to to have a presence. Not just a list of links (a blog and a Twitter and a Facebook) when you search my name. I want to be embedded in the interconnected online world: my updates on Twitter, my blog posts, but also my answers on Quora, my comments on other blogs, my photos on Flickr, my contributions to Wikipedia, my submissions to reddit, my feedback and suggestions to developers — all the interactions that make up my multifarious online (and internal) identity. I like some unification, but I also like the disparateness; my activity on Twitter is not the same as my blogging, which is not the same as my contributions to Wikipedia. Each interaction has its purpose, and they need not be interconnected beyond the underlying factor that connects them all: me.
Eben Moglen on the dangers of centralized social networking, in his excellent keynote at The Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM) 2011 in Brussels, Belgium on February 5, 2011 (full transcript here):
Social networking—that is, the ability to use free form methods of communication from many to many, now, in an instantaneous fashion—changes the balance of power in society away from highly organized vehicles of state control towards people in their own lives.
What has happened in Iran, in Egypt, in Tunisia—and what will happen in other societies over the next few years—demonstrates the enormous political and social importance of social networking. But everything we know about technology tells us that the current forms of social network communication, despite their enormous current value for politics, are also intensely dangerous to use.
They are too centralized, they are too vulnerable to state retaliation and control. The design of their technology, like the design of almost all unfree software technology, is motivated more by business interests seeking profit than by technological interests seeking freedom.
As a result of which, we are watching political movements of enormous value, capable of transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of people, resting on a fragile basis, like for example, the courage of Mr. Zuckerberg, or the willingness of Google to resist the state, where the state is a powerful business partner and a party Google cannot afford frequently to insult.
We are living in a world in which real-time information crucial to people in the street seeking to build their freedom depends on a commercial micro-blogging service in northern California, which must turn a profit in order to justify its existence to the people who design its technology, and which we know is capable of deciding, overnight, all by itself, to donate the entire history of everything everybody said through it to the Library of Congress. Which means, I suppose, that in some other place, they could make a different style of donation.
This problem is directly related to the issue of dominant market share and the high cost of switching services. For an alternative to make any significant impact (like the federated networks that Moglen and others see as crucial), it must integrate with existing services and maintain compatibility, allowing the services to co-exist and the transition to be seamless (more on that in a later post).
Essentially, the historical advantage of dominant market share has been the ability to raise (discriminately) the switching cost of competing platforms. […]
The table stakes applications (Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, etc.) are available on most of the leading mobile platforms. If not available specifically as native applications, these services as often accessible as web applications. For apps beyond the main set, a reasonably informed consumer can find ready substitutes.
The data format worries of the PC era are now largely irrelevant, largely as a result of the web and outcomes of Microsoft’s Interoperability Commitments.
This got me thinking. The cost of switching may no longer apply to the hardware and operating system, but instead, the cost applies to switching services. It’s interesting that Lessien mentions Facebook, Twitter, and Kindle, because these are three services — or platforms — that contain a lot of valuable content and information that is hard, even impossible, to get out and use independently of the specific platforms. Closed platforms like these three services, with dominant market share, absolutely have a high cost of switching (friends and information on Facebook; tweets, followers and connections like @replies on Twitter; and your entire book collection with Kindle, which is an actual financial cost). Even if it’s easy to use these services across platforms, if you want to switch services, the cost — measured not financially, but in terms of the value of content and information — is still high.
We are no longer tethered by specific data formats, instead, we are tethered by specific accounts (which is why service interoperability and data portability are so important).