Network Society course (III). Enrique Dans: Organizations in the Network Society (I)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Organizations in the Network Society
Enrique Dans, Instituto de Empresa

The evolution from the oral tradition, to writing, to the press is that of making it possible, between people and along time, communication: first, is lasts; then, is can be replicated. And it was put at the service of the society at a “reasonable” cost. Same happened with the media (TV, radio, etc.) revolution. But still it had a cost, and thus, timespan was expensive and not accessible by everyone. The Internet opens the box.

What’s the impact on organizations?

Ronald Coase: firms exist because of transaction costs.

But now, we can see that these transaction costs have dropped and many people can engage in shared projects at lowest costs [see below, Benkler].

Intellectual property rights are, systematically seen as a barrier, as a new transaction cost that seems (a) useless and (b) induces to circumvention.

A Netocracy is arising that demands a reflection about the needs to rethink some long-established conventions, as Tim Berners-Lee de facto did in designing the World Wide Web.

Some examples of new organizations
  • The real innovation of Amazon.com was not selling books online, but rearranging the shelves of the bookshop for each and every customer that “entered” the shop… at (almost) zero cost.
  • Ebay made profitable selling some goods by (a) attracting massive amounts of customers while (b) keeping very low the transaction costs.
  • Google build an index by having people built it for free: when doing links, when doing searches, etc.
  • Napster made music distribution available at low transaction costs.
  • Blogger, making it easy to publish content online
  • BitTotrrent, to distribute huge amounts of data without having to own a powerful server and access to the Net
  • Friendster, to maintain one’s own network
  • Keyhole, to put yourself on the map and get geographically contextualized information
  • YouTube, to share videos
  • FaceBook, making it possible to develop applications and turning the social networking site into a platform

And more and more people are used to work based on the afore mentioned services, plus voice over IP, etc. But still there are different layers of adoption, where early adopters are way beyond the rest of the organizations, that still think about computers. But computer-centric technology/philosophy just does not allow this decentralized way of working, of cutting down transaction costs. Cloud computing is about the opposite of PC-centric computing.

Access to information and the economy of scarcity

We stick to old mental models, based on the scarcity of information, and we tend to collect and store information instead of learning (and teaching) how to find it. The added value is no more in finding, getting, storing the information, but on transforming it.

But it is true that to have changes being done, an added value proposal for that change is to be attached. And evidence shows that it is easier to begin from scratch (i.e. a brand new firm) that bring change on an existing infrastructure.

One added value: peeping through the keyhole. Knowing what’s been told about you / your enterprise.

Access to information and the economy of attention

The amount of information is so huge that it is very difficult to catch anyone’s (e.g. the custormer’s) attention. People shift between media with most ease and at no cost. And not only between media, but between platforms, e.g. from the TV to the Internet.

Some new strategies to catch the audiences’ attention necessarily have to be created: the presentation of the iPhone, the release of Google’s Chrome…

Using social networking software (SNS) might not be a goal in itself where there’s not a natural social network. But using SNS’s capabilities to improve other environments can add value to old or traditional processes.

On the other hand, it well might be a goal in itself, as digital natives will sooner or later enter the organizations and bring with them all the technologies and ways of working of the Generation Y. And, as a matter of fact, this is something that will surely happen.

More info

Benkler, Y. (2002). “Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm”. In The Yale Law Journal, 112(3), 369–446. New Haven: The Yale Law Journal Company.

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Course: Network Society: Social changes, organizations and citizens – Definitive programme

A couple of months ago we already announced the course Network Society: Social changes, organizations and citizens.

Finally, we have been able to set up the definitive programme for the course and all the details concerning its organization. The making of both the programme and the sponsorships has been quite an issue, but we believe that we, at last, succeeded in creating a valuable proposal for all those interested in the analysis of the changes that our society faces and the role of technology and culture in the whole set.

There are circa 200 people attending the course and we hope it will become an opportunity to create (and shift towards the Net) an open and critical conversation about the so-called “network society”. Registration closes on Monday October 6th.

The sessions will take place at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), c/ Montalegre 5. We’ve uploaded a wiki (multilingual) where the attendees can introduce themselves, share information and coordinate things like accommodation (the organization has not any agreement with any hotel) transportation or possible parallel activities that anyone might be willing to promote.

The programme is, hence, as follows:

NETWORK SOCIETY:
SOCIAL CHANGES, ORGANIZATIONS AND CITIZENS


Day 1 – Wednesday 15 October

Introduction
09h00 – 09h30 : Opening
09h30 – 10h30 : Juan Freire – Presentation of the course

State of development of the Network Society
Chairs: Ismael Peña-López
11h00 – 12h30 : Irene Mia

Organizations in the Network Society
Chairs: Genís Roca
12h30 – 14h00 : Enrique Dans
16h00 – 17h00 : Santiago Ortiz

Citizenship in the Network Society (I)
Chairs: Marc López
17h30 – 19h00 : Carol Darr


Day 2 – Thursday 16 October

09h00 – 09h30 : Juan Freire – Presentation of the day

Citizenship in the Network Society (II)
Chairs: Marc López
09h30 – 11h00 : Tom Steinberg

Communication in the Network Society
Chairs: Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí
11h30 – 13h30 : Diálogo Josu Jon Imaz y Miquel Iceta
16h00 – 17h30 : Andrew Rasiej
17h30 – 19h00 : Gumersindo Lafuente


Day 3 – Viernes 17 October

Innovation in the Network Society
Chairs: Ismael Peña-López
09h00 – 10h30 : Carlos Domingo
10h30 – 12h00 : Ethan Zuckerman

Closing
Chairs: Juan Freire
12h30 – 14h30 : Round Table
14h30 – 15h00 : Closing

Some more info about the course:

Announcement. Course: Network Society: Social changes, organizations and citizens

I’m pleased to announce an event of which I’m part of the organizing committee, the course Network Society: Social changes, organizations and citizens, to take place in Barcelona, Spain, from 15 to 17 October de 2008.

Some info about the course:

PROGRAMME: NETWORK SOCIETY: SOCIAL CHANGES, ORGANIZATIONS AND CITIZENS


Day 1 – Wednesday 15 October

Introduction
09h00 – 09h30 : Opening
09h30 – 10h30 : Juan Freire – Presentation of the course
10h30 – 11h00 : Café

Citizenship in the Network Society
Chairs: Marc López
11h00 – 12h30 : Carol Darr
12h30 – 14h00 : Tom Steinberg
14h00 – 16h00 : Lunch

Organizations in the Network Society
Chairs: Genís Roca
16h00 – 17h30 : Miguel Cereceda
17h30 – 19h00 : David Weinberger


Day 2 – Thursday 16 October

09h00 – 09h30 : Juan Freire – Presentation of the day

Communication in the Network Society
Chairs: Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí
09h30 – 11h00 : Andrew Rasiej
11h00 – 11h30 : Café
11h30 – 13h30 : Diálogo Josu Jon Imaz & Miquel Iceta
13h30 – 16h00 : Lunch
16h00 – 17h30 : Enrique Dans
17h30 – 19h00 : Gumersindo Lafuente


Day 3 – Viernes 17 October

Innovation in the Network Society
Chairs: Ismael Peña-López
09h00 – 10h30 : Carlos Domingo
10h30 – 12h00 : Ethan Zuckerman
12h00 – 12h30 : Coffee break

Closing
12h30 – 14h30 : Round Table: Freire, Darr, Steinberg, Weinberger, Lafuente, Domingo, Zuckerman, Dans
14h30 – 15h00 : Closing