The Open Shop
One of the things I really dig on the web, is how easy it is to self educate from various respected sources. One of my favourite forums is tuning in to at Google Talks. A Youtube channel Google has set up where they share internal education events with anyone who cares to watch. Amazing talks at great cost to Google no doubt, from global thought leaders including, authors, scientists, entertainers, entrepreneurs et al and everyone’s favourite price – zero. While this might seem inconsequential and the norm these days, it is a significant shift from the theory of the firm. I could never imagine industrial era companies (think factories and brands on supermarket shelves) sharing their investment in staff education with the general public. I couldn’t imagine industrial era companies putting their value systems on display via ‘whom they choose’ to come into their building. No, they’d much prefer to make donations to both political parties and take a by partisan view of most everything. In fact, I can’t imagine industrial era companies sharing anything that the competition might see and take advantage or insight from. And they certainly wouldn’t invest in anything that anyone other than their shareholders would benefit from.
While it’s clear that the operating structure of digital businesses is different, let’s consider for a moment the open sharing protocols we witness from leading web shops. The ability of tweets to feed into facebook and vice versa. How Youtube allows the embedding of any video into any website. In many ways it’s like mixed multi-packs of Coke and Pepsi. It’s a fundamental shift in how business is being done. While all companies have relationships with their supply chain, it’s very rare indeed for Industrial era companies to do direct business with their most ardent competitors. We’ve now entered the Open Shop Era – where those who share, and open up certain parts of their back room get the benefit of others peoples thinking and output. It’s hard to imagine business becoming anything but more open, accessible and less secretive. Personally, I feel as though this is part of our species evolution to a form of collective sentience and community based assets.
If companies from the TV Industrial complex want to survive the upheaval, then maybe it’s time they opened up their R&D lab, their factory, and started co-opting with their competitors. After all, isn’t Facebook just a 2.0 Kodak moment?