The Search Epoch

Few people would argue that the Internet has changed the way we work and live, even though there are some who may not realize how much life has changed and how great the business implications. If you follow Nine Shift, you’ll know that they predict this epochal change to be complete around 2020, when 75% of our discretionary time is different from pre-2005.

Just as significant a change has happened on the Internet during the past five years. That is the advent of Search. Seth Godin highlights how serach has levelled the playing field, making industry leaders less important:

If there’s no search engine and you need a recipe or a pot, you visit and they find you the best match on their site. And it goes beyond web companies. If there’s no search engine and you need to buy coffee, you go to, right? Leaders in every field had no reason to invent for search… it’s not good for them.

In John Batelle’s book, The Search [a recommended read], he notes that:

Increasingly, search is our mechanism for how we understand ourselves, our world, and our place within it. It’s how we navigate the one infinite resource that drives human culture: knowledge.

Search has levelled the playing field but it has also increased our dependence on it. This makes the issue of who owns and controls the pipes & nodes on the Internet exceptionally important. If large telcos and ISP’s can provide faster speeds for preferred clients or influence search engines in any way, then our access to the knowledge that we need will suffer.

Now that everyone recognizes the power of search, this is becoming a battleground for control by multinational corporations. Keep an eye on this field and please get involved where you can, as this will affect how our children work, learn and create.

Some resources:

Michael Geist’s Internet Law Blog (Canadian)

The Cooperation Commons (a venue for discussions)

Oligopoly Watch (keeping watch on all those mergers & acquisitions)

Open Business (open source business models as an alternative to the above link)

Electronic Frontier Foundation (working to protect your digital rights)

Creative Commons (flexible copyright, so that you can use what you find when you search)

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