The key to web services becoming the dominant underpinning infrastructure in the global networks is making them easily accessible and useable by smaller companies. At the moment they are mainly implemented by larger corporations, but their very nature lends itself to creating them in modules that can be easily taken up. IBM will shortly release software that enables companies to easily charge for their web services. As I write in my book, companies should become both users and suppliers of modular services. This kind of tool makes that easy. By incorporating very flexibly pricing rules, it also leads the way to agent-based online markets – more on that another time. BT has also announced a suite of services that position it as a “trusted broker” – in effect a hub – in helping companies establish web services. John Hagel is one of the prime proponents of this strategy, and he is involved through 12 entrepreneuring in Grand Central, which offers similar services to Flamenco, which BT is teaming up with for this offering.
This article on Salon.com describes how Microsoft and China, after tough negotiations, came to a three-year $750 million “memorandum of understanding”. Despite the 92% software piracy rate in China, the agreement contained nothing about enforcing Microsoft’s intellectual property. In Chapter 8 of Living Networks I used the example of how Disney has become a dominant cultural force in China, only because its intellectual property was freely copied for a couple of decades. In the case of Disney, they can look back in hindsight and be glad they were ineffective at protecting their IP in China. Disney simply wouldn’t have a presence there otherwise. By now Microsoft understands the game. If everyone in China starts using Windows and Office as their platforms, then as China’s economy develops and as IP protection is tightened up – as it will do in time – Microsoft could see their China revenues rival those in the US. Playing this kind of network game requires a long-term approach, but in any case short-term profit maximisation can often have a severe negative impact on the long-term. As I describe in my book, maximizing profit from content requires integrating protection and promotion, and sometimes that means neglecting protection for a while.
The emergence of the “living web” In just the same way as the networks are coming to life, the language that we use to describe this new world is emerging and evolving. In the last few months, the blogging community has started using the term “living web” to describe the flow of information in the networks. Dan Chan of the very useful blog search engine Daypop has been attributed with popularizing the term recently. Mark Bernstein has written a great article 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web on the new writing approach and style which is required to participate in this space. With the launch of this Living Networks blog I too am joining in the flow. Soon this blog will become participatory, so you also can easily join in the living web.