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Users creating products for users
By Dave Winer on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 12:01 PM.

A picture named santa.gifI've long believed that the Internet will turn commerce upside-down. That what happened to journalism, software, music and video, is also happening to research and development. permalink

The benefits of centralization fade out, smaller markets work better with fast world-wide shipping networks. And development teams can be widely distributed. But most important -- it's easier to hear what users want. And the barriers to entry for users becoming developers drop, as technical information flows better. permalink

Users creating products for users.  permalink

In the centralized way of doing R&D there was distance and secrecy. A team of geniuses are sequestered for however long it takes to make their magic. Then they come down from the mountain to deliver the product, and we all buy one and talk about it and love it, while they return to the mountain and we wait for the next one. This isn't just how Apple does it, it's how everyone does it. They've just mastered the process better than anyone else.  permalink

The other extreme is users creating products for other users.  permalink

I felt blogging would play a key role in bootstrapping this method. That communities of users would coalesce at blogs, exchange ideas over long periods of time, and gradually a consensus would develop of what the next version of a product will look like. That much certainly did happen. permalink

Then I expected companies to form out of these blogs, to create the products the users wanted, that we knew they wanted (because they said so, and we were listening). permalink

We needed to learn how to listen better, and we had to learn how to be easier to listen to.  permalink

Note that this is different from Craig's List and eBay -- which are users selling to other users. Definitely a step on the path, but not all the way there. permalink

Users making products for users. No middlemen. No ivory tower. No sequestering. No waiting. An open visible development process. No secrecy. permalink

Well, anyway, now it's happening. And it's a race to see who has the model that works. Maybe they all will work, or maybe a hybrid, combining the features of one or more, will be the way it works. But in the next few years, this is where the big innovation in commerce will be. And it's going to be bigger than Google or Apple or Facebook. In many ways those companies are just providing role models for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Perhaps in some ways as negative role models, showing how not to do it.  permalink

Anyway, here are four examples of users creating products for users. permalink

1. permalink

2. permalink

3.  permalink

4. permalink

I'll let the sites speak to you for themselves. permalink

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