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The UGC limb, day 2

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 by Dave Winer.

Following up on yesterday's piece on UGC as a business model.  Permalink to this paragraph

Lots of commenters, including John Furrier, who asked what I meant by: "We could and should be cutting more fair deals with the people who create the value on the net." Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named v8.gifHere's what I meant... Permalink to this paragraph

We should be sharing more than kudos with the creative people and more than revenue too. That's the next bubble that bursts, imho, it'll soon be possible for people to set up their own server systems and route around the scams that get people to write stuff that's worth $100 and get paid $10 (and often $0). Permalink to this paragraph

It always works that way throughout history with technology. What's difficult and mysterious in 2002 is commodotized in 2008. Permalink to this paragraph

I think Amazon S3 and SimpleDB and EC2 etc point in that direction. Scalable apps are quickly becoming commodities. The priesthood of developers who can make scalable apps is about to burst into flames. I've been around this loop too many times to not recognize it. Permalink to this paragraph

Now, what would be more fair deals? Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named yummy.jpg1. First and foremost -- equity. If I'm going to pour my creativity into your business, I want the same upside you give a key engineer, or the massage guy or cook at Google. There's an invisible line that Silicon Valley hasn't figured out how to cross, yet. Some startup will figure it out, they'll give equity to their key users and community members, and their business will get all the good content. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Control of my own data. The clearest sign that a company thinks I'm a sharecropper and they're the bossman is that they won't let me move my data where I want it to go. If you give me the power, that doesn't mean I'll use it, btw. It might mean quite the opposite -- empowered to use my data in more meaningful ways, I might be happy to leave it where it is. Imagine if Fidelity wouldn't let you move money to Schwab. I don't imagine too many people would put their money there. Great writing and art work the same way. Permalink to this paragraph

Now what are the key trends to watch for?  Permalink to this paragraph

1. As I said above, the key elements of scalable systems are being commoditized. It's amazing how many apps are migrating to S3. Why Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, to name just a few, aren't getting into this business is a mystery. It can't be much longer before one or more of them do. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named hope.jpg2. The next step after that will be packaged applications that deploy through Amazon that you can buy for shrinkwrap prices. Yesterday I downloaded a Jabber server from Jive Software. Nice, but it would be so much nicer if, instead of installing as an app that runs on one of my machines, it deployed to run on one of Amazon's. If would take care of backing itself up, controllable through a web interface of course, to S3. Give me a small, simple desktop app that burns a DVD of my data, so I can have something local to put in the safe deposit box, guarding against the possibility that Amazon goes away or S3 loses data. This is so rational, we have to be going in this direction. When we do, it'll mean that the magic of the backroom scaling expert will become a commodity you can buy cheap. Another priesthood goes poof.  Permalink to this paragraph

And here's the key point, all that will be left will be the creativity. The users won't need you. So you'd be better off investing in users instead of priests. Or hedge, and invest in both. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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