the fans are the most powerful distribution points
The title of this blog was pulled out of context from Fred Wilson's recent post about some major things going on in the world of music http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2008/04/something-impor.html . Sorry Fred. I think this is true on a much larger scale than just music. The signs are absolutely everywhere. It is pretty wild actually from my vantage point.
People ... i.e. you and I, are increasingly powering the new economy. Some of the most successful and revolutionary things in recent years are powered by people in some way. People create and/or distribute content and messages on their own ... often with no clear incentive. Even google, though powered by complex algorithms, is ultimately powered by people they got the word out (ever see a google ad?)
Canvas & Paint Brush
The internet has connected us and some smart people gave us canvas and paint brushes so we could create and/or share. MySpace started out as an empty canvas which allowed people to express themselves and feel important. Similarly for youtube, facebook, blogger, digg, hypemachine, flickr, texting, twitter ... heck ... even email, still the most powerful (and undervalued) social utility. There are so many ways for people to communicate and express themselves that this will lead to a new economy. It is not possible for it not to.
Word of Mouth
It used to be that a brand could reach millions of people and become successful purely through advertising on tv. No more. Even pure advertising online (banners ...), though easier to track, is ultimately doomed. I've never seen an add for google, or twitter or facebook. I heard about these from friends and others I respect. The beauty in all of this is that people are willing to carry your message ... you "just" need to create something worth talking about and give them the tools to get the message out(and some incentives like fun & notoriety... don't hurt).
We Canadians have always been good at building things to help people communicate .... perhaps because the population is spread out. Basic communication is now ubiquitous & and is increasingly moving to a more complex level which is pretty exciting and I'm so glad to be part of it.
PS. Check out Umair Haque's blogs at http://www.bubblegeneration.com/ and http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/haque/2008/03/the_future_is_goople.html for some much deeper and insightful discussion. I've had the good fortune to chat with Umair on a couple of occasions and rarely will you meet someone with such a deep insight.