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I’ve had the pleasure to be helping out the insanely talented Benjamin Taylor and his team recently. If you’re unfamiliar with Ben’s work, you’re missing out. He sings like a very lyrical jazz player; like Chet Baker plays/sings, like Clifford Brown, or Paul Desmond.
His music is not jazz (strictly speaking), by the way; it’s just incredibly well-written and played, uhm, folk-pop. Sort of hate that. Too reductive. You’ll have your chance to make up your own mind in a second.
Before we get to the music, I want to talk about what we’ve been up to.
We started by re-designing Ben’s site. Now, I’ve been through my share of nightmarish web dev experiences, and I gotta say, this one was amazingly painless.
All the credit in the world goes to Jason Feinberg at On Target Media. He immediately got that we needed functionality and ease of use prioritized over design (we, actually haven’t even “designed” the site yet; that is, there’s no fancy .psd files yet overlaying the “guts.” I’m not sure we need them). He chose Drupal as the CMS, and had everything cooking basically over a weekend.
Topspin has developed very robust widgets. Better to show than tell. The players below are Topspin widgets. Go ahead: stream the music, share them via email, embed them, and by all means click the “Get it Now” button to be taken to Ben’s Site where you can buy the music. Doing so gets your email into Ben’s database, and – using the Topspin features – Ben and his team can analyze the data in a variety of useful ways.
Additionally, a few days ago, we set up a Twitter stream for Ben; you can follow him: HERE.
Through all of this we’ve increased traffic to Ben’s site by a multiple of 5x over the course of a couple months.
As I said in a previous post, artists are now able to create their own ecosystem.
Here’s some music. Enjoy
Benjamin Taylor The Legend Of Kung Folk Part 1 (The Killing Bite)
Benjamin Taylor Another Run Around The Sun
Start noticing how often you hear people use the word “ecosystem.”
It’s no longer used simply to describe some the combination of physical and biological elements that comprise an environment.
Rather, it’s being tossed around to connote the coordination of external elements in a manner that results in a proprietary system.
What web2.0 was really about was the decentralization away from some sort of monolythic propreitary concept towards an ala carte paradigm. As we move beyond web2.0 we’re beginning to see a connection of these ala carte items.
It’s become non-value adding to have a MySpace page, a Linked In profile, a Facebook presence, etc. However, we don’t want to give these things up. Rather, we want to coordinate them.
Friendfeed et al. represent a move in this direction.
Additionally, people are realizing that if they want high adoption of whatever they create they must enable people to connect their creation to their existent applications rather than forcing them to add yet another application to their world. Hence the very easy ability to connect, for instance, your Twitter feed to your Facebook profile. Hence the preponderance of APIs/widgets/etc.
This has been what’s been going on for the past couple of years: people starting to connect their disparate apps (via APIs) together like Legos.
Now, with the emergence of social media, it’s no longer just the apps that are in some form of scattered-ness/connected-ness, but also your constituents. You have friends/fans/customers/colleagues scattered about. This is no good, and people have begun to realize that they need a central place; a hub from which the spokes of connectivity emanate.
However, this is a very different type of hub from those pre-web2.0 hubs.
Instead of being limited to the functionality of platform upon which your hub was built upon (be it a blog platform or whatever), now one can really begin to start pulling in these apps/widgets/APIs into their own hubs.
What we have now is a planet with moons in its orbit, rather than galaxies of random, unconnected planets.
We have ecosystems.
The implications of this are vast. Prior to these developments if you wanted to create an ecosystem you had to hand build everything. This was expensive and time consuming, and really the provenance of the deep-pocketed. The emergent were left to either join these ecosystems or be left in the cold; they could not afford to create their own ecosystem.
Now, with good planning and a judicious use of the apps/widgets/etc. at your disposal you can begin to create an ecosystem that leverages the strengths of the existent applications while still building your own presence.
I can’t tell you how many times I have advised companies against starting their own social network. I tell them to, instead, develop a robust presence on FB, and leverage it to get the message you want out about your own presence. Don’t compete with FB; you will lose. Instead, use Twitter, FB, etc. to make people aware of your own Site, business, etc.
This requires coordination. It requires having a vision and providing value for people at your own Site.
When done right, you do create an ecosystem.
Believe me, this is an important moment. It’s important because it brings us closer to solving the largest problem for the web entrepreneur (and aren’t we all web entrepreneurs?) right now: the coder/manager dilemma. That is, no longer will those of us with ideas be held hostage by some coder whom we have hired to implement our ideas, but – for a variety of reasons (many outlined in the post) – cannot/will not.
As the web becomes less and less driven by tech-types and more and more driven by creative-types we will experience breakthroughs beyond belief. (And, yes, I know, tech-types can be creative types, but it’s far more rare than you think.)
The ability to create ecosystems via the creative combination of existent technology instead of having to create everything from scratch is a momentous thing; hence the zeitgeist around the word “ecosystem.”