Content is a tool, an instrument, a means to an end,… — and if it isn’t, then the content doesn’t matter.
One person who had a great impact on my thinking about a lot of things was Theodore Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss”. His quote from “The Lorax” sums it up quite well:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
So according to Geisel, caring is important — and although I agree, I think it is also not enough. It is, perhaps, a prerequisite for engagement.
It is only actively engaging that will lead to results. If I read a story, if I look at a picture or watch a movie, listen to music — whatever: none of this content will lead to results. It may motivate me to engage, but it is only the engagement that will actually result in something.
What is more: The result of actual engagement will always be a success:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Note what this means for websites like “Facebook” (and/or other previous “participatory” networks such as “Digg”, or “Slashdot” even earlier than that). The content itself becomes engaging. Yet if the result of the content is more content (whether that be “likes” or ad impressions or whatever), then this result will remain limited to cyberspace, having no impact on “the real world” (or “in real life”, “IRL”).
Likewise, as I wrote many years ago: “You must remember this, a click is just a click”. Even though Google continues to be able to turn such clicks into large revenue streams, it is only a matter of time before people realize that these clicks are actually worthless unless they lead to real engagement.
In contrast, the Addle search system, which I introduced earlier this year, requires participants who wish to engage with other business partners to put skin in the game before they are allowed to interact. There is no requirement to create superfluous content, or for bean counters to tally up clicks. Since worthless clicks are worthless, counting them up is also worthless. Since the only thing that really matters is real-world engagement, each participant needs to gauge their online content according to how well it leads to real-world results.
One last note on this notion of “collaborative economy”: Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group has also been writing a lot about collaboration in recent weeks. However, his view of collaboration seems to be different than my own — he writes that the “collaborative economy” is:
where brands will rent, lend, provide subscriptions to products and services to customers, or even further, allow customers to lend, trade, or gift branded products or services to each other.