FROM PLACES TO SPACES

All nodes in a network are intermediaries.

Someday everyone in the world will have email, and when they do, I don’t want six billion emails a day as everyone shares what’s on their mind. Since half the world will probably have their own businesses, and half of those will be start-ups, I will do everything I can to insert intermediaries between my mailbox and their mailsenders, to sort out, route, and filter my incoming mail. By the same token when I go to email old Mohammed Jhang, someone whom I have not met, who lives in Chinese Turkestan, to let him know about my latest gene therapy cure for arthritis, I’ll need an intermediary to find him and then to reach past his blocking filters. I probably won’t get through so I’ll need more intermediaries (An advertiser? A lottery? A locating agent?) to lure him into the open, perhaps a pigeon-racing club, or the cineplex where he gets his movies from, to make him aware of my discovery. Sure, anyone can type “new gene therapy cure for arthritis” and turn up 32,000 hits. But you need intermediaries to vouch for their medical worthiness. You need intermediaries to compare my price and the others.

The marketspace of the new economy can hold far more intermediaries than the marketplace of the old could. This swelling bulk of intermediaries becomes an exaggerated middle. As networks proliferate, so do overlapping clusters of intersecting interests that reside in the realm of the middle. In fact the hypermiddle is less a size than a shape.

 

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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK