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Is Freedom Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose? November 5, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.

And doesn’t “open” mean “commodity?” Nah, just trying to grab your attention. Marc Andreeson, who knows a thing or two about platforms, says OpenSocial will win because:

    Freedom wins, and openness wins. You can hold it back for some period of time, but in the long run, freedom always wins because freedom and openness let people all over the world be fully creative and innovative in every way they want. And the creativity and innovation that freedom and openness enable will always swamp anyone’s attempt to wall off a proprietary world with tight controls and sharp limitations.
    In the mid-1990’s, people told me all the time, “AOL has all the users; why would you think this web thing is ever going to amount to anything?”….Now, as that happened, AOL also became hugely successful by being one of the easiest on-ramps to the Internet — but once broadband hit and consumers no longer needed a dialup ISP to get on the Internet, AOL went into a tailspin from which it has never recovered, swamped by the power of the decentralized, open, free web.

Well, AOL bought and killed Netscape. Or was it the other way around? That is, killed first, then bought. (Remember those browser deals with Netscape and with Microsoft?) Not that that would make a Netscape founder bitter.

But, more important, last I checked, AOL was still Number Three in Internet advertising and Google’s biggest single 3rd party supplier of “eyeballs,” as we used to say back in 1.0.

Sometimes a proprietary system can build you a big enough audience and business that you can screw up royally a few times, and still end up being a playa in the open world that emerges.

Colleague David Schatsky on the dialectic between open and proprietary.

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