Will Content Ever be Profitable? - If the Internet...
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If the Internet is a budding medium - then we should derive great benefit from a study of the history of its predecessors.
The Future History of the Internet as a Medium
The Internet is simply the latest in a series of networks which revolutionized our lives. A century before the Internet, the telegraph, the railways, the radio and the telephone have been similarly heralded as "global" and transforming. Every medium of communications goes through the same evolutionary cycle:
The Public Phase
At this stage, the medium and the resources attached to it are very cheap, accessible, under no regulatory constraints. The public sector steps in : higher education institutions, religious institutions, government, not for profit organizations, non governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, etc. Be deviled by limited financial resources, they regard the new medium as a cost effective way of disseminating their messages.
The Internet was not exempt from this phase which ended only a few years ago. It started with a complete computer anarchy manifested in ad hoc networks, local networks, networks of organizations (mainly universities and organs of the government such as DARPA, a part of the defense establishment, in the USA). Non commercial entities jumped on the bandwagon and started sewing these networks together (an activity fully subsidized by government funds). The result was a globe encompassing network of academic institutions. The American Pentagon established the network of all networks, the ARPANET. Other government departments joined the fray, headed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) which withdrew only lately from the Internet.
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