The first three key-factors i.e. driving forces behind “2.0″ (this series does NOT cover web2.0 it covers 2.0ness in general) were already part of this series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Now comes factor 4 beeing the so called end of control. Here I am only a thieve of Gerd Leonhard’s point of view, who has analyzed the changes in the music sector very closely. For me it boils down to control beeing systemtically more and more impossible. Even if you might be able to manage it technically e.g. to remove a youtube-video, it will pop up in manifold ways also somewhere else. nothing that was once leaked over to youtube ever diminished again from the digital space because the internet inherently works through making copies. Every webpage you surf is exactly that: A Copy. And copies once sent out cannot be controlled anymore…
What does this mean in detail? Especially what does it mean for beeing successful in anticipating this factor? How can I profit from knowing about the “End of Control” beeing such a huge driving force? The first question one might ask is “What do I want to control and why?”. Often it is the content people want to be in control of. This may be some picture, audio, video, pdf-document or even some page with text on it. Keeping these things under control means keeping them walled. Nobody can connect to them as long as he is not a member of the “walled garden society”, and even then it is often impossible. You cannot point/refer/link to it, you cannot cite/mashup/rip it, you cannot share it or show it to others.
But exactly that is what makes up the current web: links which do not get broken by a wall. Citations of an image which catches the eye immediately to make it a visual link/cue. Sharing of stuff to connect the like minded. If I can choose to either cite from a page with an image on it or to not beeing able to cite a page with an image, because it is under some kinde of control, I will decide for the page without control. Content out of control will sooner or later outpace certain kind of content under control. Content under control becomes obsolete, because nobody cares any longer if nobody can see it, refer to it, and cite it.
Content out of control will spread like a virus without any barrier and gain attention, while content under control will only serve a minor part of the internet-community, the “walled garden society”. Expressing it differently: If Martin Luther would have kept his revolutionary, religious theses under control, nobody would have ever heard about it. It would have been irrelevant and may never have gained enough traction. But he put his manifest out of control, knowing that this way he would gain attention and something I would like to coin “thinktime”. People spend their limited thinktime on information which can easily travel, not on stuff that is protected and though made difficult to reach.
Only if the effort to overcome protection of content is really worth the content (which you often cannot check beforehand), users will be willing to work through e.g. registration-procedures or clumsy payment-processes. End of Control content results in more thinktime for people to be spent. Giving away your content results in mor thinktime beeing spent on it. Along with this comes attention for the context the original content is embedded into.
Ian Rogers from Yahoo nailed this with the sentence “Inconvenience doesn’t scale.” A similar point of view is shared by Matt Mason in his book The pirates dilemma. Long story made short: Control, i.e. Copy-Control is no option for an infrastructure like the internet which is the largest built copymachine ever.
Just the opposite is true, one of the most successful concepts of 2.0-powered sites is content-let-free. Offering content via plugin- or embed-code is one very successful way to reduce control. Youtube offers embed-code for videos, flickr offers embed-code for pictures and picture-collections, lastfm.com offers embed-code for music, slideshare offers embed-code for slideshows. Many other services give their content away through explicit API’s and RSS-Feeds. Giving away control means winning a lot of thinktime and beeing able to participate in one of the most influential factors powering 2.0.
Sources of Inspiration: