One Thought From The Book Here Comes Everybody By Clay Shirkey That Will Change The Way You Think

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There’s a recently released book called, Here Comes Everybody (The Penguin Press), by Clay Shirkey that I am loving. In fact, I am having a hard time remembering the last time I took this long to read a book. I am enjoying it so much, that I simply don’t want it to end. I’m savouring it like a fine wine

Just now, I was reading a small segment and I thought I would share it with you:

"When reproduction, distribution and categorization were all difficult, as they were for the last five hundred years, we needed professionals to undertake those jobs, and we properly venerated those people for the service they performed. Now those tasks are simpler, and the earlier roles have in many cases become optional, and are sometimes obstacles to direct access, often putting the providers of the older service at odds with their erstwhile patrons. An amusing example occurred in 2005, when a French bus company, Transports Schiocchet Excursions (TSE), sued several French cleaning women who had previously used TSE for transport to their jobs in Luxembourg. The women’s crime? Carpooling. TSE asked that the women be fined and that their cars be confiscated, on the grounds that the service the women had arraigned to provide themselves – transportation – should be provided only by commercial services such as TES. (The case was thrown out in a lower court; it is pending on appeal).

Though this incident seems like an unusual laps in business judgement, this strategy – suing former customers for organizing themselves – is precisely the one being pursued by the music and movie industries today. Those industries used to perform a service by distributing music and moving images, but laypeople can now move music and video easily, in myriad ways that are both cheaper and more flexible than those mastered and owned by existing commercial firms, like selling CDs and DVDs in stores. Faced with these radical new efficiencies, those very firms are working to make moving movies and music harder, in order to stay in business – precisely the outcome that the bus company was arguing for."

Marketers need to start thinking about how we do business and how, in a world where reproduction, distribution and categorization is becoming ubiquitous, where we’re going to add value and differentiate. Our recent battle-cry that "the consumer is in control" as User Generated Content started taking hold is no better – and just as unrealistic – as the TSE (and the music industry) suing their former consumers.


  1. Ah, the ever-difficult transition from one age to another, from industrial age to information age.
    First, the previous age doesn’t go away. It just becomes less dominant. We still have Stone Age needs – food, shelter, etc. Those companies that still serve previous age needs will do fine as long as they’re okay with small margins and focus on operational efficiency above all else.
    For the information age, everything derives from creativity. That, I have become convinced, is the key skill of the information age, because only creativity lets you generate things that are new, things that have value. One of the greatest early dangers of the information age is that we get caught up in recycling knowledge and fail to create enough.
    For the marketer, when you hire, look for communication skills of excellence and creativity. At a job interview, stop asking the usual questions and put out a room full of blank paper, markers, a laptop running Photoshop, a small music keyboard, and a Flip cam, and have your candidate MAKE something new in 15 minutes.

  2. Okay, so the title of the post wasn’t misleading: you’ve changed the way I think about something — namely about how “the consumer is in control” is no better than the music industry suing their former consumers.
    But dig this: if we’re social creatures and, as a result, honesty has been rewarded at the level of evolution/survival because it allows us to capitalize most on our social nature (our strongest competitive asset in the state of nature) by facilitating better cooperation, then what’s to be said of intellectual property? I mean, what good is an “idea” if someone else “owns” it? Maybe it should be pooled.

  3. I am not at all a supporter of the music industry. But I don’t think you can compare the silly actions of the transportation company to that of the music industry. Purely, because the music industry doesn’t only transport music, they also have the rights to the music. The french transportation company didn’t have the rights to the journey to Luxembourg. The argument should rather be: should music companies be allowed to claim the rights to music at all? Don’t you think?

  4. I think the question becomes, of what purpose are the music companies?
    From the music companies’ perspective the purpose is the necessity to survive. To survive, they attempt to justify their existence by insisting on the need for their presence between musicians and the music consumer. They are willing to litigate to preserve this position.
    From the musicians’ perspective, if the music companies are out of the picture, then they, the musicians, are burdened with the task of profiting from their creations and outsmarting free distribution between consumers. At this stage for the musicians, the music companies are a necessary evil.
    For the consumer, the music companies are perceived as a dying, old-school elder whose grip loosens even as he struggles not to die.
    Am I the only one who sees Rock Stars and Movie Icons as part of the outgoing old-world? I hope not.
    If I’m right, here’s my prediction…you better have some damn talent if you want to sell records or anything creative, for that matter. Not much longer will the existing, traditional stardom machines of music, movie, and TV be around to manufacture bubblegum stars based on an image surveys of the current target demographic appear to want.
    Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!!!

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