Book Review: The Pirate’s Dilemma

Matt Mason traces the current web 2.0 movement back to the 1970’s punk rock culture. He starts with focus on a quote from punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue with a diagram showing three finger positions on the neck of a guitar with the caption:

“Here’s one chord, here’s two more, now form your own band.”

In a 2.0 world, doing-it-yourself does not seem that radical anymore. Anyone can be published author on the web. You can jump onto Blogger and in a few minutes have a powerful web publishing platform up and running in a few minutes.

Mason looks to some early punk bands who played for themselves and your buddies. Then maybe a few friends come along. If other people come then great, but it does not matter that much because you are doing for yourself and few people close to you.

Mason focuses mostly on music, but in the background I was thinking more about blogging. It does not make much sense to put together and a print a book that only a few hundred people will read. That is a big deployment of capital with an improbable return on investment. With web 2.0 the capital for distribution and publishing is minimal. A blog with only a few hundred readers is successful.

Mason labels the new business as “punk capitalism.” The businesses often are not in it for the money. They would like to cover their costs and have few dollars of profit. But they are not in it for the money.

Seth Godin in Unleashing the Ideavirus: “It took 40 years for radio to have 10 million users. . . 15 years for TV to have 10 million users, and it took Hotmail and Napster less than year. . . The time it takes for an idea to circulate is approaching zero.”

Web 2.0 movement is allowing a bigger audience of creators, a more rapid efficient distribution of information at less cost. It seems a little strange to be reading these concepts in a book.

Thanks to the delightful Connie Crosby of Crosby Group Consulting for giving me the book.

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