I'm thinking out loud in this post, trying to assemble the underlying thoughts that will become Global Neighborhoods. I am still meandering. I really won't know what the new book will contain until after I complete my magical mysterious tour of a large slice of the world with Rick Segal. It's lonely in the planning phase without Scoble who did such a fine job of outlining and organizing Naked Conversations.
To paraphrase Weinberger, I have several small pieces loosely joined. Some of this has been written previously. Right now the assembly is whats important:
1. In some ways, Global Neighborhoods will be a sequel to Naked Conversations. I have great pride in the last book, but was never completely happy with the last section in which we attempted to paint a big picture that went beyond blogging into something called a Conversational Era. While accurate, the term has not caught on, nor do I think it is suited to describe the enormous fundamental change being created by a connected world. Global will attempt to paint a bigger picture of what the world, and large organizations will look like a few years down the line from today. Naked Conversations examines the cause of the change. This time I am more concerned with the effects of the change.
2. Ultimately, what I see is a world forming in which powerful companies and even governments will have little choice but to yield the power they have to communities. Communities will be the fundamental shapers of new products and services, of the meaning of brands and a good deal more. The individuals who are most generous to these communities, who help the members most with matters of community interest, will be the most influential and powerful members of these communities. Some of these new influencers will be employed by large companies. But these spokespeople will not be one way conduits of sales and marketing from corp to customer, but will bring back to companies very accurate assessments of what the community wants most and is willing to pay most to obtain.
3. Geography becomes irrelevant as people use the internet to interact with people who share common interests. If two governments cannot get along, people start finding each other and ways to interact through social media. The most passionate members of these communities become the leaders. This works both globally and in the macrocosm. If a neighborhood wants speed bumps on its street and the elected city officials ignore this demand, the neighborhood can use its blog to ally with an opposing candidate. It can start conducting marketplace voting block barters with other neighborhoods who may want a Stop Sign.
4. Not only does the connected world make geography irrelevant, it also allows us to dwell in neighborhoods that are built on shared interests. People generally feel safest in neighborhoods where they share commonality with others. Even a gang member feels more safe in his own crime and poverty infested neighborhood because he knows the rules there. He knows not only how to survive there, but others people like himself will support him in a great many ways. Because of the irrelevance of geography, we can each choose to join a multitude of neighborhoods on local, national and global levels. For example bloggers, hummingbird fanciers, pornography, religious organizations, political groups etc. We may share greater passion in one over another and may be more active in one over the other.
5. The technology that has enabled all this connection and community empowerment s pretty much in place. The costs are going down and the current number of quality teams with innovative ideas is rising. The entry barriers are as low as at any point in history. Tech, historically has clustered in a very few number of geographic locations such as Silicon Valley. But with these diminished barriers, companies are forming all over the place, new entrepreneurial tech clusters are forming in new places such as Toronto, Cork and others TBD by the world tour are forming and growing in strength. If Silicon Valley remains the center of the universe, then the universe is rapidly expanding and the opportunities for small talented teams to get started is unprecedented. (This are will be the central focus of the world tour for me and is likely to be the longest portion of the book)
6. While the barriers to entry are low, the barriers to exit are higher than people realize. There are currently over 1600 so-called Web 2.0 companies. Most of them seem to have ideas that strengthen communities. Nearly all offer services online for free. A majority expect to make revenue and someday profits through contextual advertising. There are questions as to how effective online advertising is even when they have extremely low CPM. Extremely few companies expect to remain standalones or endure to the point of an IPO. Instead they all aspire to be acquired, and in a great many cases by just three companies Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. This makes a buyer's market and this leads to a good number of speculations that the current boom is in fact another bubble--one less spectacular than the last time around in terms of dollars, but one which will result in the entrepreneurial graveyards will be filled with good ideas that could benefit communities but can not adequately be monetized. (This section will look at the business models of several companies both pro and con). Of greater interest is what happens to large traditional companies like Microsoft, who see the end to their traditional business models and need to undergo a huge period of change to survive. Will they be able to make the change or or will they succumb to Google's more modern model and ability t execute faster. In turn, with dozens of new Web 2.0 search companies rapidly emerging, will Google themselves be nipped to death by tiny new niche search companies forming all over the globe with amazing speed?
7. Down the line, perhaps five and ten years from now, what will the world look like for end users who are organized along community lines? What about the company of the future? Will most products and services be delivered on line and if so how much of it will be free? How will the evolution of communities impact diverse human rights and access to information across the borders of nations with diverse laws. How will this massive decentralization of tech startups impact the world's economic imbalances?
Anyway, this is a first draft. Robert and I had about 15 drafts of what would become the Publisher's proposal. The chapters themselves will come alive with the use of case studies, lots of case studies, as we used in Naked Conversations.
This is the overview component to a critical document called the Publisher's Proposal. There are many more pieces to it, including a TOC, a marketing section where we define the target audience, a Table of Contents, a sample chapter, and oh yes, the request for an advance in lieu of royalties, which is my favorite part.
Please tell me what yo think of this so far. Is it a book that interests you? How can I make it stronger, tighter, more useful? Give me all the tough advice you can. My skin is pretty thick and I want to write a very interesting useful book.