Thursday, 23 May 2013

internet business model Part 1.2 in the beginning; history, culture, characteristics, operating system, rules

[This is a re-post (originally posted on 27 Nov 2012) with minor edits, deleted the original post by mistake.]

Openness, a design criterion of the original internet (connectivity is not limited, knowledge too) that became a natural sentiment alongside its borderless and peer associations model is probably evolving the single most significant method of the internet economy, that of an open access platform business model.  The likes of Amazon and Google use this model to drive innovation, develop new products.  So too can nations in fostering creativity and cultivating entrepreneurs.  A later essay will discuss this model in more detail including another, the open source model which some economists ascribe to as a new model for economic production.  These are all based on an open culture, important in an internet economy.  In a closed and controlled environment, an eBay, a Facebook or a Google would never have blossomed as they did.

If being open is difficult, most of you, some pretty annoyed would have noticed that there was some form of counterculture and egalitarian attitude pervading the web world.  Wikileaks and Anonymous (hackers with the moniker “return power to the people”) comes to mind.  Any authoritarian effort (such as the establishment aka payment processors giving in to the US government towards Wikileaks) begets an anti-authoritarian response (and thus alternate online payment systems arose to support Wikileaks).  But dark as they were, depending on where you stand, there is much more light.  This culture actually aided creativity as Mark Zuckerburg implied “The equality and anonymity made the internet so liberating” (Time magazine, 27 December 2010).  Many online companies were borne out of this.   And some say it is leading towards further democratisation.

The IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force sets the technology standards for the internet), an early internet body operates quite differently.  Unlike the traditional standards bodies, wherever possible the IETF avoid formal hierarchy, there are no fees, no membership requirements and anyone can join and participate.  This mode trickled down to Asia with the internet community organised conferences and meetings where you’ll soon change into jeans and t-shirts to blend in!  Their output, IETF's standards are available online without charge.  Can you see some of these in your everyday web activities?  Were they (eg. easy to register or no registration) common when we want services before the internet?  Were they less effective compared to the stuffy airs of traditional bodies?  The open and egalitarian manner obviously influenced the technology being developed which later spilled out to the online companies formed and into common culture.  But this egalitarian and open culture may be harder to accept in Asia.  Traditionally Asians tend to horde more as a competitive advantage.  A student may not share say, a better method with another student.  Strong leadership is the norm, less so devolution.  I had great difficulties urging attendees to Technet’s conferences in Singapore to loosen up!

The next post looks at how the culture is starting to have an effect on businesses.

©Chen Thet Ngian, (2012, 2013).  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chen Thet Ngian and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.