Outsiders act as employees,...

...employees act as outsiders. New relationships blur the roles of employees and customers to the point of unity. They reveal the customer and company as one.

This close coevolution between users and producers is more than poetry. There is a very real sense in which the owners of the phone network sell nothing at all but the opportunity for customers to have conversations among themselves--conversations which the users themselves create. You could say the phone companies cocreate phone service. This blurring between origin and end spills over into the birth of online services, such as AOL, where most of what is now sold is being created by the customers themselves in the form of postings and chat. It took years for AOL to figure this out; they initially wanted to follow industrial logic and sell downloadable information created at great expense by professionals. But once they realized that the customers acted like employees by making the goods themselves, the online companies started making money.

The net continues to break down the old relationships between producers of goods and consumers of services. Now, producers consume and consumers produce.



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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