What makes the Internet different from the printing press? Usually when I have written about this topic I have focused on marginal costs: books and newspapers may have been a lot cheaper to produce than handwritten manuscripts, but they are still not-zero. What is published on the Internet, meanwhile, can reach anyone anywhere, drastically increasing supply and placing a premium on discovery; this shifted economic power from publications to Aggregators.
Just as important, though, particularly in terms of the impact on society, is the drastic reduction in fixed costs. Not only can existing publishers reach anyone, anyone can become a publisher. It is difficult to overstate how much of an understatement that is. I just recounted how the printing press effectively overthrew the First Estate , leading to the establishment of nation-states and the creation and empowerment of a new nobility.
The implication of overthrowing the Second Estate , via the empowerment of commoners, is almost too radical to imagine. And yet, take a look around: there are protests around the globe, from Hong Kong to Chile to France to Spain to the Netherlands, primarily by populist movements.
The U. I described the rise of Trump in particular in The Voters Decide :. For a moment, though, step back to the world as it was: the one where newspapers and TV stations, etc. In this world any viable political campaign had to play nicely with those who ran the press in the hopes of gaining positive earned media, endorsements, etc. Just as important, though, was the need to buy advertising, as that was the only way to reach voters at scale.
And advertising required lots of money, which meant donors.
And then, once the actual election rolled around, a campaign needed an effective GOTV effort, which took not only money but also the sort of manpower that could only be rustled up by organizations like labor unions, churches, etc. Indeed, given their power over what users see Facebook could, if it chose, be the most potent political force in the world. Until, of course, said meddling was uncovered, at which point the service, having so significantly betrayed trust, would lose a substantial number of users and thus its lucrative and privileged place in advertising, leading to a plunge in market value.
In short, there are no incentives for Facebook to explicitly favor any type of content beyond that which drives deeper engagement; all evidence suggests that is exactly what the service does. Said reticence, though, creates a curious dynamic in politics in particular: there is no one dominant force when it comes to the dispersal of political information, and that includes the parties described in the previous section.
Remember, in a Facebook world, information suppliers are modularized and commoditized as most people get their news from their feed. This has two implications:. This is a big problem for the parties as described in The Party Decides. And, by extension, the most successful politicians in an aggregated world are not those who serve the party but rather those who tell voters what they most want to hear. Forgive the long excerpt, but there are multiple points relevant to the current moment worth covering.
First, the initial effect of the printing press was substituting Second Estate control in a First Estate framework; specifically, emerging nation-states formed state churches with the King as the head. That is a similar dynamic to many of these populist movements, which are nationalistic in nature.
Both Brexit and Trump explicitly call back to nostalgic views of national greatness, conveniently ignoring that neither movement would have been allowed a national voice in the time periods they aspire to. I suspect this adherence to the Second Estate nation-state framework is temporary. The first and most straightforward way is Facebook putting its thumb on the scale. This is largely being framed as aiding President Trump in particular, which is probably both true and also an unsurprising complaint from the Second Estate used to having monopoly control over fact-checking.
The broader issue is that the third concern and first concern are so clearly in direct opposition to each other. If Facebook has the potential for immense influence on politics, why on earth would anyone want the company policing political speech? This question is even more meaningful than it seems. The other major news story of the past few weeks has been The China Cultural Clash. Zuckerberg referenced this in his speech:. China is building its own internet focused on very different values, and is now exporting their vision of the internet to other countries.
Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside China has been defined by American platforms with strong free expression values.
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A decade ago, almost all of the major internet platforms were American. Today, six of the top ten are Chinese. While our services, like WhatsApp, are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these protests are censored, even in the US.
For some in the Second Estate , it appears to be an open question. And so we are back to China. The fact of the matter is that the world is fundamentally changing, just as it did five hundred years ago. At the same time, that change will take time — the printing press was invented in Germany in and yet German unification did not happen until — and will be guided by choices we make along the way. The sooner we recognize that transformation is coming, the more readily we can reject authoritarian attempts to hold onto the world as it was, and create the world we want to see.
Creating tools that help you increase your knowledge, success, health, and happiness. Now when we apply that mission to hardware and services, it means creating products like…Pixel phones, wearables, laptops, and Nest devices for the home.
Each one is thoughtfully and responsibly designed to help you day to day without intruding on your life. Did you catch that? Apparently Google has a new mission — to bring a more helpful Google to you. Today our mission feels as relevant as ever, but the way we approach it is constantly evolving. We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done.
They all share a single goal: to be helpful, so we can be there for you big and small over the course of your day.
All rights reserved. Management tracks the buyout percentage constantly, with an eye for potential problems. The planning team will use the scan to identify the opportunities and threats facing the organization. A combination of wired and wireless connectivity seems to be the way forward, at least for now. Help Your Corporate Brand Stand Out From the Competition Learn how corporate communications can differentiate their brands by focusing on tangible benefits. Any organization making technology investments is always challenged by project outcomes, timelines and expenditures.
Like I said, boring and self-satisfied. In the mobile era, smartphones changed the world. Now you heard me talk about this idea with Baratunde, that helpful computing can be all around you — ambient computing. Note how much better Google is placed than Facebook or Amazon, both of which I wrote about two weeks ago.
The latter two companies are hindered by their lack of a smartphone, and their beachheads in the consumer space — Oculus and Alexa, respectively — are constrained by specialization in the case of Facebook and location in the case of Amazon. Ambient computing that goes away when you turn off a headset or leave your house is not truly ambient. Osterloh made this point:. The Google Assistant plays a critical role here. It pulls everything together and gives you a familiar, natural way to get the help you need.
Interactions need to feel natural and intuitive. No matter what you are doing, you should be able to just say the name of the song and the music just plays without you having to pull out a phone and tap on screens or push buttons.
Only companies with smartphone platforms can deliver the same experience everywhere. That is to say, only Google and Apple, and the latter seems to be barely trying in the home in particular. This also explains why Google, despite being a Services company, is investing in hardware. When there is a performance gap — when product functionality and reliability are not yet good enough to address the needs of customers in a given tier of the market — companies must compete by making the best possible products.
In the race to do this, firms that build their products around proprietary, interdependent architectures enjoy an important competitive advantage against competitors whose product architectures are modular, because the standardization inherent in modularity takes too many degrees of design freedom away from engineers, and they cannot not optimize performance.
To close the performance gap with each new product generation, competitive forces compel engineers to fit the pieces of their systems together in ever-more-efficient ways in order to wring the most performance possible out of the technology that is available. When firms must compete by making the best possible products, they cannot not simply assemble standardized components, because from an engineering point of view, standardization of interfaces meaning fewer degrees of design freedom would force them to back away from the frontier of what is technologically possible.
Rather, the integration that matters is between all of the various devices that exist in every part of your life — home, work, play, and everywhere-in-between — and the service that links them together. While the company has at times been drawn into the trap of prioritizing and differentiating Android with its services, the fundamental services nature of Google means that its ambient computing offering will leverage any OEM that wishes to take part, even Apple.
Despite how well-placed Google is to execute on this vision, it is not a certainty that the company will win, for reasons both structural and also internal to Google itself. First, the customers most likely to not only be interested in the idea of ambient computing but to also have the significant funds necessary to buy all of the various gadgets required to make it a reality probably use iPhones.
Apple was the high-end integrated player in smartphones, and contra-Christensen , that was a sustainably large portion of the market.
Google, meanwhile, was the modular player in smartphones, which meant it had the most affordable smartphone offerings and by far the largest marketshare. The challenge the company faces is that its modular customer base is less likely to spend on the integrated solution that Google is selling. Second, while Siri will likely never reach the reliability and usability of Google Assistant — Apple has its own internal challenges — Apple continues to increase the switching cost from iPhone by doubling down on devices.
AirPods are infinitely better than Pixel Buds in that they actually exist and have for three years, and the Apple Watch continues to grow strongly. Both devices, particularly when used together, also give you ambient computing beyond the smartphone and yes, HomePod is still muddling along.