Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Same War, Different Day


As a child born in the 1980’s, the World Wide Web was something that seemed to infiltrate the American culture in the same way that one might recall the telephone or television had in the earlier part of the century. With difficulty to those who were born at the very turn of a technological advancement, one could recall life without the new device, but imagining a world in the present without it, was nearly incomprehensible. Christopher Locke explains in his book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, that the internet is the common-person’s tool, and with understanding of the product it makes sense that large-scale companies and corporations are shying away from the transition to such new technological means.

It is difficult to decipher between ignorance and stubbornness. It is clear that ignorance is a large part of these corporations’ unwillingness to change with the times, for the reason that similar changes took place in America during the past century. According to Locke, companies could see that “command-and-control management didn't work so well anymore. Necessary knowledge no longer resided at the top. It was as if the organizational core had melted down, and companies that couldn't adjust fast enough — or that were culturally unwilling to shift gears — went belly up as a result.” This same situation can and will happen again. In Chris's blog, he makes reference to the Enron Scandel. This is evidence of the extreme measures large-scale corporations have already taken to preserve their power (and wallets) in response to the internet take-over. Jenni is absolutely right when she states in her blog that “this war is not a new one.”

Locke argues that it is the corporations fear that this infiltration of internet intelligence will overly educate its consumers. This is not a far-fetched claim. “In the ‘good old days,’ consumers weren't expected to make suggestions or ask for new features. They were simply supposed to buy the product — any color they wanted as long as it was black. In the same way, workers weren't expected to offer insights or suggestions, just to do what they were told.” Henry Ford set the standard for this producer atitude. This internet intelligence, however, has become a reality. One can search the internet. If he or she cannot find what they are looking for from one merchant, they may easily go to another.

As Christopher Locke states, “The internet has radically changed the marketplace.” It has become a “sink or swim” situation for companies and corporations, small and large. “For many, the new landscape is barely recognizable, online or off. Where business is headed there are no roadmaps yet, and few comforting parallels with the past. The landscape has little to do with mass production, mass merchandising, mass markets, mass media, or mass culture.” Though yielding power to the seemingly communistic community of the internet seems frightening to business man thinking only of his wallet, this new means of production and efficiency could actually create a country of intelligent consumers, and in turn, an even more intelligent group of producers.


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