One of my favorite books is “A Thread Across the Ocean.” It tells the incredible story of how American entrepreneur Cyrus Field overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, multiple failures and 12 years of effort to get the first transatlantic cable laid from North America to England in 1866. The result was an unleashing of international business that made the original investors fabulously wealthy.
As impressive and fruitful as this heroic achievement was, what flowed through the pipe – content – would dwarf the success and economics of the pipe itself. Business and consumer communications and information that once took weeks could be carried out instantaneously, by telegraph, then telephone, then through other means.
In the years since, countless new pipes have emerged, either physical or wireless, opening up bigger and better content opportunities – from radio to network television to cable TV. As with the transatlantic cable, content is what made the difference for consumers and businesses.
We’re seeing a similar trend on the Internet.
The first Internet wave was the access wave – when the dial-up and then broadband pipes were put in place.
The second wave was about platforms – messaging, search, social networks, and the like, that let us find and share information. Many companies have invested years and tens of billions in pipes and platforms.
- Dell to Buy Perot Systems for $3.9 Billion in Cash
But how much money has been spent designing content and content management systems that will fill these pipes and the platforms? Is the content you read, watch or listen to really built for you? Could the third and most promising wave of the Internet be the creation of scaled, quality content tailor made for every man, woman and child.
In my view, yes.
And, interestingly and painfully, the very economy we’ve been suffering through for more than a year is accelerating this third wave and is opening up the media business of the future.