Points to Forbes

I was terribly impressed picking up the Forbes 90th anniversary issue. No stodgy, self-congratulatory looking back there. The entire issue is devoted to “the power of networks.”

And online, they prove they get it by putting up an org-chart wiki asking us all to tell all about the organization of companies we know. They say: “It’s a new way to tap the collective knowledge of our community…” That’s the sort of thing I would have — should have — expected from new-fangled Portfolio, not from old Forbes. Instead, Portfolion gave us a bunch of old-fangled magaziney features. Go figure.

In the network package, Rupert Murdoch (whom I happened to run into on the street in Manhattan today, moments after buying the magazine, and whose confab in Carmel I’m attending in a week . . . who needs a network when you have New York?) says:

Traditional companies are feeling threatened. I say, bring on the changes. . . .

Those of us in so-called old media have also learned the hard way what this new meaning of networking spells for our businesses. Media companies don’t control the conversation anymore, at least not to the extent that we once did. The big hits of the past were often, if not exactly flukes, then at least the beneficiaries of limited options. Of course a film is going to be a success if it’s the only movie available on a Saturday night. Similarly, when three networks divided up a nation of 200 million, life was a lot easier for television executives. And not so very long ago most of the daily newspapers that survived the age of consolidation could count themselves blessed with monopolies in their home cities.

All that has changed. . . .

Companies that take advantage of this new meaning of network and adapt to the expectations of the networked consumer can look forward to a new golden age of media. [T]he future of media is a future of relentless experimentation and innovation, accelerating change, and–for those who embrace the new ways in which consumers are connecting with each other–enormous potential.

YouTube’s Chad Hurley adds:

We are at an unprecedented time in the history of entertainment media. Never before has the opportunity been so great for independent writers and actors, musicians and producers to create compelling content on par with the studios, networks and labels. With easy and affordable access to cameras, editing software and computing power, the playing field has been truly leveled. . . .

YouTube represents the first time media has become truly democratic for both the audience and the content creators.

Continuing this superlativefest, Howard Dean says:

The Internet is the most significant tool for building democracy since the invention of the printing press. People are now easily able to create, discover and connect with networks within hours, anywhere around the globe.

This connectedness is creating a huge shift in power as ordinary citizens decide what’s important and most relevant to them. They can network with like-minded individuals to create a technology-enabled global grassroots movement. . . .

Fundamental trust in your users is the only way to have a successful relationship with them.

That is a revolutionary idea, one that politicians are not particularly comfortable with. But it’s now the reality. The power in campaigns now belongs as much to these shifting networks of committed citizens as it does to the political establishment.