Your Prosperity Is Directly Linked To The Prosperity Of Your Network

Have you read Kevin Kelly’s book, New Rules for The New Economy?  If not, you should.  Originally published in 1998, it’s amazing how it has held up over time.  Kevin has been re-publishing it bit by bit on his blog, and I’ve been enjoying a fresh read.

Some people were (and are still) critical of it, however most truly interesting books are never praised 100%.

I especially enjoyed this bit from Chapter 5:

Maximizing the value of the net itself soon becomes the number one strategy for a firm. For instance, game companies will devote as much energy to promoting the platform–the tangle of users, game developers, and hardware manufacturers–as they do to their games. For unless their web thrives, they die. This represents a momentous change–a complete shift in orientation.


The prosperity of a firm is directly linked to the prosperity of its network. As the platform or standard it operates on flourishes, so does the firm.

Formerly, employees of a firm focused their attention on two loci: the firm itself and the marketplace.

Now there is a third horizon to consider: the network. The network consists of subcontractors, vendors and competitors, emerging standards for exchanges, the technical infrastructure of commerce, and the web of consumers and clients.

Sounds a lot like artists and app developers in the dance with Apple and iTunes.  Apple actively promotes the applications and music as much as their devices.  In fact, Apple is already so far evolved in this they integrate the content within the marketing of the devices thsemlves.

WordPress – although open source – is similar.  There is a tangle of developers, designers, businesses and influential users all depending on the platform.  It’s a rich ecosystem in and of itself.  And when any of these constituents do better, WordPress wins.  By encouraging the network to grow and spawn additional offshoots – in ways perhaps never intended by the original creators – the host grows.

Did Twitter intend for multiple clients to be created like TweetDeck?  Did they know developers would create influence tools like Klout?  Did they know someone would create CRM tools like CoTweet?  No, they couldn’t possibly have predicted that:  but they enabled it through an open API.  Essentially this allowed an organic network to form surrounding them.  Now they promote those tools within Twitter itself and understand that as the network grows, their company grows.

The best part?  You don’t even have to be an Apple, WordPress or Twitter to take advantage of this strategy.