Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Connect, in Serial Format

Since enough of my book is written and off at publishers where it should get picked up, I thought I'd present some of the writing and ideas here in condensed, serialized form. The working title is Connect: Why the Internet Works, or perhaps Connect and Play: Why the Internet Works, but I am partial to the shorter title. (Note that is is not How the Internet Works, as one of my friends objected that Why might be about TCP/IP which it is not, this is why, not how.)

Why it works is because it allows people to connect.

The major sections are the introduction, the Internet, CompuServe, Videotex, and the conclusion. The Internet is the majority of the work since it is the system that is still with us, the one that succeeded where the others failed over time (although CompuServe was with us for a long time). All three systems were started or conceived of in the late 1960s (videotex is a bit different since it is not a system like the other two, but a type of system, but the comparison works and is still narratively compelling).

I look at what we do with the Internet, and discuss two fundamental human drives that are important for what we do online: the drive to connect (with others) and the drive to play. These are what make the Internet work.

CompuServe and videotex didn't allow people to connect enough, or to be playful enough with content. CompuServe adjusted over time, but couldn't compete. Videotex was designed with control in mind, and failed miserably (no no, Mintel was different, that's a long story, but it wasn't at all like any of the US videotex efforts although no one over here seemed to realize that).

People are extremely social (the drive to connect), and many mammals (and even some birds and octopi) are playful creatures. When a systems allows us to be who we are, we use it and it succeeds. This is not just true in life but also a key to success in business (for example, see the books Drive by Daniel Pink and the IDEO book The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley).

Most of the book looks at what we do online in a social way, so most of my examples and ideas will be based on Internet activities.

Look for posts with the Connect label. This is the first intentional one under the idea that I am going to do so, but I have some previous posts that stem from the work, so I'll go back and put the Connect label on them as well.