Monday, December 04, 2006
The Internet, as we know is huge. It shifts masses of data via a network. This three dimensional space with millions of nodes using a range of pipes (wires, radio, cable, cellular, even sound signals) is huge at the core. Most of that data is of no interest or value and is well beyond the understanding of more than a few dozen people. Who knows, cares or even has an interest in the TQM data transfer about the real time ware characteristics of a bit drilling holes in an engine for a manufacturer three thousand miles away for a customer two thousand miles further on and a designer in another location altogether. But it is that sort of information that makes up the big juicy heart of the Internet.
On top is the rich, thick, heaving and growing relationship cloud. It feeds off email, instant messaging, web, VOIP, and other stuff that gives these billions of people the sort of Internet they want and need. This is the Internet of relationships. The social Internet. Here are billions of relationships - the Relationship Cloud.
This is the stuff of social communities. Groups of, now, billions of people who, in the context of the time, environment, and interaction and with values held in common express themselves using a raft of different technologies in even more billions of relationships. The daily billions of e-Mail, MySpace, Bebo, YouTube or eBay social interactions are essentially small group in nature. They are each first and foremost of a culture, of social standards, of language, of place.
The groups of people, the social interactions are dynamic, pervasive and permissive. they reach deep into the Internet core and flirt and flame with the marketing veneer of actors on the fringe of the The Cloud.
Some 70% of all email is considered spam by people in the Relationships Cloud. By extrapolation, is 70% of all the other commercial interceptions in the social Internet also regarded as spam?
I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more than a grain of truth here. Do we want the flashing advertisement, the pop-ups, the click throughs? Can we mechanically mentally block them out. How does The Cloud flirt and flame with marketers?
The Relationships Cloud believes it has rights. It believes it has rights to availability of the Internet, it claims rights over copyright, it believes it has rights over the views of others, it believes it has rights to service. It accepts some responsibilities. It is prepared to tolerate some advertising and cost for delivery service. It will, in some cases pay 'fair' prices but the line is finely drawn.
It does not matter what the accountants and economists say. The Relationships Cloud is valuable. Some parts of it like MySpace and YouTuble are represented on balance sheets, are worth billions in the 'real' world. But theses parts of the Relationships Cloud but a few ant hills in a world infested by ants.
It does not matter what the sociologists like to think, the online groups are a real phenomena that uses games to build whole new communities as real as Trumpton to a five year old.
In the management of nation states the boundaries have changed. Politics has changed. It is not that boundaries have been abolished. It is that a different type of boundary now also exists.
This is not a matter of haves or have nots, Internet users and non users. All mankind is sucked into the mediation of the Internet. They are affected by the social groups that form and make up the Relationships Cloud.
Right now, people in marketing and advertising and PR are trying to stand close to the Relationships Cloud. Their web sites gain traffic, sell goods and services and offer information with thousands of interactions but into a mart of social groups aggregating relationship transactions counted by the stars in the sky.
But, one gets the impression that the relationship cloud radiates powerfully and can burn and sicken the corporation that stands too close or offend to greatly.
The waspish nature of The Cloud is quite capable of wreaking vengeance. Too much spam and spam blockers become common and email addresses are just abandoned. Popups are blocked, adverts are just avoided (RSS still scores well here). Blocking and flaming becomes common, viruses are created or The Cloud simply flows round the obstacles.
The Cloud is quite happy to shrug its shoulders over command and copyright and work round control. More sights and sounds are being downloaded than forever and an even smaller proportion is being paid for now. The Cloud has spoken.
The Cloud can also attack. It will attack companies. Ask Dell, Wal-Mart/Edelman.
We have not yet seen a major confrontation between The Cloud and other institutions but the skirmishes have been pretty bloody.
It attacks individuals too.
The Cloud has no Parliament. It is and is not a democracy. It has a currencies of relationship values. It has no grand rules and yet tends to self policing.
The Cloud can be wrong by any measure and yet The Cloud can avoid the justice of our traditions.
Love the social interaction and beware The Cloud.
Photo: Photoshop talent.