FROM PLACES TO SPACES

When Wired magazine began developing…

…one of the very first commercial web sites in 1993, the phrase “unlimited shelf space” was often used by potential contributors. Closely linked to this phrase was “bypassing the editor”: the notion that editors were superfluous intermediaries, and that writers and readers didn’t have to be subject to the frustrating and degrading filtering of go-betweeners. The raw stuff would flow in its full length and naked power directly from writer to reader. Our first prototypes convinced us that that wasn’t how the net worked. The web site we launched and continue to build today (Wired Digital) is based on a different premise: that in a network economy, intermediaries have tremendous value.


Technology encourages the proliferation of intermediates. Smaller companies, in greater numbers, are able to find niches where niches could not have existed before.

Everything about the web, especially the over 1 million web sites currently in existence, suggests that the expectation that the network economy favors disintermediation is exactly wrong. It is quite the opposite. Network technologies do not eliminate intermediaries. They spawn them. Networks are a cradle for intermediaries.

 

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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