It’s a huge stretch to think about society, and about business, from the perspective of the independently empowered individual. In business, and even in government, we are so accustomed to thinking about people as dependents, and to seeing their abilities in terms of what we as institutions allow, that it’s difficult to switch our perspective around — and think about companies, and organizations, existing at our grace, and building their services on what we bring to the collective table.
Until I read this piece by Adriana Lukas this morning I hadn’t fully realized how the ubiquitous use of the word content, which I’ve griped about for years (and which Adriana quotes) frames our understanding of markets, and media, in ways that place presumed control in the hands of “providers” other than ourselves. Even UGC — “User Generated Content” — is not seen as ours, but as freight for media companies to forward for their own purposes. As John Perry Barlow put it a few years back, “I didn’t start hearing about ‘content’ until the container business felt threatened”.
Media is where the madness is maintained. And that madness will persist for as long as we continue to assume that business is shipping, and that our worth is measured as freight for The Media’s container cargo business.
But rather than gripe some more, Adriana offers a useful way of framing the full worth of individuals, the creative goods they produce, and what they bring to both social and business relationships: the concept of the person as the platform:
Content is media industry term. The number of people talking about content grows every day as they assume roles that before only media could perform. With more tools and ways of distributing, photos, videos, writings, cartoons etc. are being ‘liberated’ from the channel world. Alas, often sliding into the platform and silo world. As far as I am concerned there are only two platforms – the individual user and the web.
That gives us something interesting to work with as we continue exploring how this changes everything.