The rise of the benign information dictators

One of my fave journalists is Miriam Olsson Jeffery @miriamolsson on twitter. She is kind of the Swedish eye into Silicon Valley, an important information source to have if you work in IT here in the Scandinavian Tundra. Her opinion is worth it because unlike allot of other technology journalists she is truly immersed in her work, not just commenting it but living it.

Her latest article has the Swedish Headline was about when she participated at Quantified Self 2012

Kevin Kelly: ”Data är den nya oljan”

(here is he full article, you can run it through Google Translate to the language of your choice! )

which translates to

Kevin Kelly : Data is the new oil

When I saw this I literally choked. The reason is in back in the day when I was  working for Bonnier @bonnier I said it as well! 3 years BEFORE Kevin! Woohoo! But when I said it I got allot of email patting me on my head saying : There There little one. However, the idea at Bonnier was embryonic to Bonnier Digital and Bonnier Analytics.

Here is the orginal blog post from Bonnier

R&D’s Erich Hugo on the rise of the benign information dictators.

I sat in meeting today for the whole day in Brussels. The meeting was to define parameters for the European Union’s ICTpolicy. Kind of like the what/when/how/if/yes/no strategy of Europe on the web. My mind is understandably buzzing. But a few thoughts struck me.

Firstly, government. Everybody wants to have an opinion about how bad government is at doing their jobs but very few people actually want to get involved. That’s why big corporations have so much power, because they effectively lobby the whole time for their own corporation’s interest. I can imagine that the civil servants at the EU are quite punchdrunk from being bombarded with corp-speak.

And in the web world, these lobbyists are generally the usual suspects. I find it very, very interesting that big technology companies have assigned themselves the roles of defenders of consumer interest and freedom of speech…if the consumer uses their products. This area used to be represented by journalists, editors and artists, but since they had outsourced their technological competence to big companies that work at understanding of the intertubes, they have also lost touch with the ethical responsibility they have to play in this arena. So the distribution competence has migrated away from the media companies—unfortunately, without the ethical principles.

So what do techno companies do? They slap a cool mantra bumper sticker on anything that enhances their business model, weird things like “Information wants to be free.” That gem usually rouses the rabble into a frenzy, and the pitchforks come out at any sign of discontent. Has knowledge ceased to have a quantifiable value? Does the four-year higher education in a specific subject not have a value anymore? Just because you can have an opinion about nuclear physics (and you post it on your blog), does it mean it carries the same weight as an actual nuclear physicist’s?

Another beauty is ethics. The hard science information dictators scoff at ethicists as holding innovation back, but it seems that it’s not taken seriously and governments have to therefore implement ethical measures by force. Which in return upsets the public as the other mantra about big government being bad is ponied around. I am all for paying specialists for their unique competence—it’s a sound business model.

And this leads us to the web and the rise of the benign information dictators. The ones who blind us with colorful logos and funky web 2.0 names.

They control the digital oil of the 21st century.

They control the information flow, and innovation is at their mercy. These days, some of the business ideas that we get have to be measured against the following rule: can one of the benign information dictators launch a similar service free of charge? If the answer is YES, then you really have to go back to the drawing board because they probably will. How many revenue generating reunion Web sites went out of business after Facebook was launched? Probably all of them. The irony is that Facebook is still not making money. The same goes for YouTube, another diamond that seems to keep on staying rough. If your business model is going to be based around advertising, think carefully, this is not an endless supply of revenue and the amount of blogs out there has meant a limited mount of money has become fragmented.  There are big players in this area and they generally do not share.

In 1901, there were over 1000 registered car manufacturers in the USA.  After 100 years, they dwindled to three. They same goes for the web.  It’s still very early days and everybody is talking about the rules, but the playing field has not even been set.