Albert's Talk At Velocity

My partner Albert delivered a really excellent 20min talk at the Velocity conference last week. His talk was about the threats to the open internet, why they exist, and what we can do about them. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with all of the themes in Albert's talk, but his framing of the issues is really well done.

If you have 20 minutes this weekend, I strongly suggest you watch it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. johndefi

    First, amazing talk. Comprehensive and thorough. Next, I would really love to hear about how we (I) could build our ideas, our passion, into a real business. And clearly this is typical perspective routed in survival, or better yet, creation of the fittest. However, we did not all attend MIT, or Harvard, or Penn, or Stanford, etc. So, what is left? Or, what in our space? Is it angel investment? I don’t think so for relatively obvious reasons (progression to dollars). I believe most of us are supportive of this talk, but there are so many who could use help building. So here is my point: can’t we support more small business efforts that will drive Albert’s thesis that will change everything?

    1. fredwilson

      Capital is part of the issue but I think the ability for everyone who wants to be a maker to be one is a bigger issue

    2. testtest

      “However, we did not all attend MIT, or Harvard, or Penn, or Stanford, etc”the material is being released online:…there are books that are better than the lecture material from mit, harvard etc.if you can’t get the advantage of having a ‘signal’ from one of these establishments–bit of paper to prove that you know something–get another advantage. how about spending the same amount of time learning subjects that aren’t taught in school. learning the web more deeply. by being on the web more. more net native. more current. picking and choosing from subject areas that combine together to allow you to do things others can’ could be argued its the best way to get an advantage–there’s not much advantage doing the same as everyone else.

      1. Richard

        Stanford ML class rocked!

  2. jason wright

    So does Albert ride a bicycle or not?

    1. John Revay

      Looks like a serious rider

  3. iamronen

    Excellent talk, thank you very much for posting it.I see a similar hierarchy-network threat taking place at a deeper level then even a core infrastructure like the Internet. I am thinking of economy itself … as a system. It is within that system that your (USV) involvement with the Internet is taking pace.The very notion of a high(er) financial ROI is, in my mind (but not just me:… ) a failed paradigm that goes against the notion of a network. Can you see the problem I am seeing?

    1. fredwilson

      Do you mean that maximizing ROI is at odds with a healthy network ecosystem?

      1. iamronen

        Yes. Not in a trivial way. In a macro-view finance is a system that draws energy out of a network into a hierarchical structure. Venture Capital is first and foresmost about that (to my understanding you don’t fund non-profits) … any other social gains or network effects are secondary to that (and only tolerated when in alignment with it).

        1. fredwilson

          i suggested the same thing at hacking society. of course it begs many questions about the VC business model. but my gut says you are right.

          1. Dale Allyn

            A change in this space would have an effect on our project. In an effort to maintain a humanitarian or society-benefiting component of our for-profit project we’re looking for investment from outside the VC space for now. Traditional VC typically needs an exit in the form of IPO or acquisition and doesn’t provide well for “cash cow” businesses or those with a “higher social mission”.We (generically) need a high-quality capital resource which is prepared to be more creative in designing the partnership, framing the ROI, etc. By returning to the basics (in some cases) of building businesses with revenue models built in, return of principle investment can be structured into the terms, with handsome gains to occur as well. This could help to incentivize more teams to build great products and services which not only provide good ROI, but also contribute more to society at large. Criteria would need to be adjusted, but it would be worthwhile to develop.

          2. fredwilson

            this is a big problem with the current model and, i think, a big opportunity as well.i’ve been thinking about it a lot lately myself

          3. Dale Allyn

            I’m glad you’re thinking about it. You’re the right person to help fix this (along with some other high-character people). I agree that there is opportunity here.We’re really trying hard to stick to our vision. Our product and service are needed (by us and others), but the extensions we’re working to build (our roadmap) will provide more to others if we can avoid certain pressures associated with the traditional VC model. A good model can provide excellent returns (financial and otherwise), but we need to design some changes into that process/model.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Anything that increases the benefit to the network or to socializing/interaction is good for the network, the strength of the network.I understand it might not be good for the profitability of the network, however if that profitably negatively affects the benefit to the users of the network then you’re in trouble; Think Facebook and their ads, as an easy example, compared to integrated revenue streams.I’ve said before, many times, and I’m sure I’ll continue saying it over the years — your product/service must provide 100% benefit to the user, and if it does not you’re potentially in trouble – you’re leaving a potential competitor to arise in place.I’ve been saying this lately too: If I can offer users the same benefit that Facebook offers people, and only make $10,000,000 per year doing it — why wouldn’t I? That’s $10,000,000 per year in my pocket; Of course there’s likely more than that possible with 1 billion+ users, and in fact you’ll end up with more than 1 billion users if you’re giving 100% benefit to the user.That’s the value that allowing profit brings — competition who will look for ways to make things better, who can aggregate the most recent information and prune it to something simple, beautiful and useful. That along with the cost of development online lessening everyday is very powerful.

          1. iamronen

            It is absolutely wrong to equate potential profit with motivation.Time will tell how many “benefits to networks” were actually benefits. When x years into the future we will encounter new attention deficit disorders and nervous system diseases … we will have to re-evaluate these “benefits”. Smoking was once a good and social practice.They are not users they are people. It’s easier to speak of giving when you think of people. Speaking and thinking of users ultimately invokes a taking mentality.The current hierarchy is money (users) first, people second. If you believe that the two are in perfect alignment … then it should very easy for you to rearrange that hierarchy 🙂

          2. Matt A. Myers

            For health/wellness, you need to focus on preventative/proactive. We know how trying to control the illegal drug market works. It’s much cheaper to help people recover than it is prevent them from being users in the first place; Control vs. manage. It comes down to education people, and showing them alternates and supporting them, facilitating them getting there – to healthy lifestyles, etc., and in some circumstances incentivizing it – which is why I see myself getting involved in politics in the future; I have a goal to help implement a preventative/proactive healthcare system in Canada, and so this has been a problem I’ve been looking at for a number of years now as well.

    2. JamesHRH

      Maximizing short term ROI connects for me here.A healthy network can generate strong ROI for a long time.

      1. iamronen

        what if that very notion “[financial] ROI for a long time” is as temporary an illusion as many of the industries currently being undermined by the networks themselves.this isn’t just about venture capital … but capital itself!

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Agreed. This reminds me of my The Independent Web: How Can It Work blog post, where at the end I mention controlled ecosystems that aim for higher short-term profit, vs. managed ecosystems (healthier) that have less profit, though survive longer, and have less risk associated with them (and less cost, as control usually has cost).

    3. Matt A. Myers

      The way I see capitalism is that it’s main point is to create innovation, and innovation leading to allowing the next unit produced to cost $0; The idea being to maximize the benefit to society, through more people having access to the innovation.Of course, with physical products it’s impossible to reach $0 cost per unit because of natural resource costs, labour, etc.. However with the internet and digital information, the only cost is the distribution and hardware to access the utility.The virtual world therefore makes it essentially possible to reach $0 cost per unit distributed; If the infrastructure and the hardware costs are paid for, then the actual cost is in the time spent; Then we can talk about how time is money, and money is time, and therefore with enough time anything can be created, and will be created if there’s a need.This is why I imagine Carlota Perez talks about how anything created online is good for the world, that the world will benefit, and not just the place it is created.

      1. iamronen

        Does the way you see capitalism aptly reflect what its dominant features have become?I do not believe USV exists to “maximize the benefit to society” … it exists to “maximize profits to its investors” … it may happen to do so while trying to benefit society but that’s not an inherent feature and is not why investors come on board.But my point here & today is not to discus capitalism … I’d love to do that when Fred gets around to writing about VC and social responsibility … but today my point is to highlight the fact that USV operates in a hierarchical meta-system (finance/economics) while preaching and making profits from network systems. I see an integrity issue here.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          It so happens that USV’s thesis has been to support networks of engaged users, and open networks are the healthiest, most sustainable, and happen to be the most beneficial to society; It’s a side-effect, if you want to look it that way.And there is a current profit associated with it, and there will be a long-term profit potential from them, as if you have a user, you have access to their eyeballs and that has value.I say the following in different a variety of situations: You have to use the current system in order to change it; USV is a mechanism for change, for innovation.Sure, there could be authenticity issues, potential disingenuity – though that’s the cards they have to play and they are playing them. It is in their best interest, for profit reasons, to promote anything that increases the success of their investments – though of course anything that promotes the success of their investments is good for their investments, and if their investments are good for society, then it’s win-win; And why shouldn’t they be rewarded for their efforts? There’s nothing inherently wrong with profits, though people can do bad things in order to get them, that isn’t always the case.The reason I am at AVC is because what Fred and USV have been doing is an almost perfect example of how / what success will look like in the future, and it is the perfect classroom to learn from, it is the perfect classroom to read new materials and converse, a community to spend time on to think and further your own thesis and plans.

          1. iamronen

            I couldn’t agree with you more that Fred and USV are a unique group in a unique position – that is also why I am here and why we are having this conversation. See Fred’s comment below:…The VC paradigm is fine as long as social & profit go hand in hand. But what if better social can be achieved with less profit? What if profit is an obstacle to social?I think that the “disingenuity” may become a risk for USV. If there indeed a paradigm shift of “hierarchical to network” (supported by USV) that challenges older business models (currently threatening internet freedom) … then USV may face a similar challenge when this shift reaches the finance system itself.If that is the case … then USV’s actions may already be infected/teinted and creating damaging future ripples.Remember that once (not too long ago) the music industry (the same one currently threatening internet freedom) made it possible for us to enjoy music by printing and distributing vinyl and cd’s. However I would also argue that already back then the seeds of corruption were present but dormant. Now they are enemies of the public.I would prefer USV not become a public enemy. However I feel that they are too closely affiliated with a (hierarchical) system that is very quickly heading in that direction.I personally look forward to a collapse and reinvention of finance and economics. Those wishes do not (currently) extend to USV.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            The goal will always be to maintain the userbase. If something comes along that is threatening that, then adapt or die. That’s life.I’m realizing now I may not even need VC money. I plan to do a Kickstarter project for at least one project I am working on. Social good projects will want to be supported by the crowds, as they will be seen as being socially good.There will still be space for VCs though in certain circumstances though.

          3. iamronen

            We live in two very different worlds Matthew :)I do not believe that socially good projects are necessarily popular and supported by crowds.I would suggest that if something is popular – then it is most probably latched on to mediocrity and catering to a social weakness rather then a social strength. Kickstarter is, in my view, dominated by indulgent wastefullness not by social good.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            If indulgence can align with a platform that can also support social good, then it will. Perhaps I can see a different or broader picture, perhaps because of experiences or what problems I have been focusing on solving. I see most social good projects eventually coming to fruition, though they still must meet the criteria for anything that becomes successful – good execution, well-packaged, community built around it for your evangelists crowd, etc..

          5. Richard

            Yep. We are spending 3 trillion a year fighting disease. How about we stop glamorizing foods and life styles that cause  disease. Why does every developer meetup I attend  end with beer and pizza. 10% of teens today are on some type of antidepressant . Are we sure, that encouraging every kid to sit behind a computer 10 hours a day at the expense of living like a kid is a good idea? 

          6. andyidsinga

            most of that I dont disagree with ..but whaa? you’re going after beer? Sir, you*are*out*of*line on that! 😉

          7. Richard

            Just challenging a the legacy industries and having us think a little broader at times. It is not the alcohol and beer per se, it is the glamorization, like cigaretts in the past.The average age when youth first try alcohol is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls.By age 14, 41% of children have had least one drink.The average age at which Americans begin drinking regularly is 15.9 years old.Teens who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.An early age of drinking onset is also associated with alcohol-related violence not only among persons under age 21 but among adults as well.It’s estimated that over three million teenagers are out-and-out alcoholics.  Several million more have a serious drinking problem that they cannot manage on their own.Annually, more than 5,000 deaths of people under age 21 are linked to underage drinking.Various studies have found that 44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at the binge level or greater.Every year, an estimated 30,000 college students require medical treatment after overdosing on alcohol.Annually, 400,000 students between the ages 18 and 24 engage in unprotected sex while drunk and say they wouldn’t have done it had they been sober.The three leading causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds are automobile crashes, homicides and suicides — alcohol is a leading factor in all three.

          8. andyidsinga

            Sorry – I made a feeble attempt at humor.Agreed glamorization can have negative consequences, and those are all frightening statistics. My intuition is that alcohol / drug abuse goes much deeper than advertising. I’d add that parents have teach / role model moderation for their kids.[edit : weird – disqus stuck the whole email in the body..removed it]

          9. Dale Allyn

            “I would suggest that if something is popular – then it is most probably latched on to mediocrity and catering to a social weakness rather then a social strength.”I respectfully disagree with this statement, but would suggest that it takes designing projects with both business expertise and purity of desire to make a difference, together with a plan to execute that. However, there may be semantics involved here as well, with regards to “supported by crowds” (so I might be reading things incorrectly). Sustainable good can come from for-profit endeavors while still providing the necessary incentives to attract investment, great teams, and other types of involvement (advisory, evangelizing, etc).As for Kickstarter, I can see examples of different goals and values and I’m not responding to this part of your comment, iamronen.In fairness, you do say “most probably…” allowing for other senarios.We’re working hard to solve some real problems in a way that provides revenue well in excess of operational and growth costs, while also providing benefits to society by virtue of the core products/services, as well as through company commitment to make a sustainable difference.

          10. andyidsinga

            Thats an interesting perspective .. what leads you to believe that indulgent wastefulness is the dominant factor on kickstarter?Certainly kickstarter is not dominated by a drive for social good – but does it (or its users) think of it that way?

          11. iamronen

            I do not have a comprehensive view of kickstarter … however most of the projects that have appeared in my browser seem to me like … wasteful indulgences.Though, to really answer your question we would need to sit down for a long and probably challenging conversation on life, values, society … otherwise we would have no scale with which to evaluate or even debate what is wasteful and what is valuable.

          12. andyidsinga

            Rather than attempt to set the scale – maybe just provide a few examples that I can then use to compare with my own view of what kickstarter is.

          13. iamronen

            this feels a bit offtopic … howeverI don’t recall specifics and am not motivated to hunt them down … they pass in front of me and quickly leave my consciousness … dominant in my memory now is whole category of iJunk, a computer game …However, in response to your question, I, for the first time, went to the Kickstarter home page and browsed for a couple of minutes … and found there is plenty of other stuff … and I love the alternate finance model it presents … but through it appears a culture I am not a part of … a culture I perceive to be indulgent and wasteful.I think its an amazing achievement that a culture could reach a point where something like Kickstarter manifests – where individuals in a society can directly support things they value … but that is where the conversation again needs to take a turn to a deeper level … a discussion about the things that a culture values … weather those values are moral, resilient, sustainable …I see cracked and crumbling foundations while “you are all” shopping for nice furnishings … and I want to tell you … but the building is about to collapse … but you so love your nice furnishings …… and for some reason, in my mind (which, granted, may be … way off), money/finance/economics seem to be at the core of the issue…and I am totally immersed in resetting my scales … which make me an outsider … and … well … grants me an outsiders perspective… I live with more questions then answers … but I prefer the questions to the poor answers currently availableso in the end we are (kind of) on topic 🙂

          14. iamronen

            also … I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the “networking” paradigm has already trickled up into conversations between USV and its investors … so the groundwork for change has already been put in place … now all that remains is to make some bad-ass changes 🙂

          15. Matt A. Myers

            The shift that can and will hopefully occur in the very near future will be very dramatic and life-changing for everyone. The benefit and value of the internet can increase much further than it currently is at.

        2. jason wright

          I appreciate the apparent contradiction of “operating in a hierarchical mete-system while preaching and making profits from network systems”, but is it an integrity issue, really?

          1. iamronen


  4. David Semeria

    A fantastic summary of the conditions that allowed the web to become what it is, and why those conditions are now under threat.My key takeways:- “View page source” as a conduit for knowledge transfer (the power of open)- Hierarchies to networks: citizen empowerment on a massive scale- Incumbent push back: to hell with humanity, we liked things the way they were.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. I’ve not seen Albert make that view source point before. It’s a powerful one.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        It’s transparency. We learn from eachother. This is a thought that has popped into my head a lot lately. It’s the most empowering thing we have as an individual, to teach others.

      2. Aaron Klein

        “View Page Source” is how I taught myself how to code on the web in 1995.

      3. vruz

        …and even “View Source” is not half as important as being able to write and put your own stuff on the web, and linking to others.(Albert pointed out that about linking too.)Without linking, network effects disappear, and the web becomes less valuable as a whole, to the benefit of a couple of moguls.

    2. Luke Chamberlin

      There is a good blog post on the importance of “view page source” by Sara Chipps:

      1. David Semeria

        That’s an excellent post, a must-read for everybody. Many thanks.

      2. Dale Allyn

        What David said. Thanks for the link, Luke.

  5. thoughtveesh

    i don’t know if this is a threat to the internet, but i HATE that companies like USV portfolio company do slimey things like give you a 1-month subscription option to try the product, then have some tiny text somewhere that says it’s okay to auto-renew your bill, so you end up with a surprise email receipt. WTF? they know the reason you sign up for 1 month is because you want to trial it. and instead of making auto-renew the default, they should send emails saying “you are going to lose your organizer status if you don’t extend your subscription”. i’m sure the number justify it now. but we’ve all learned that the internet roots out sleazy behavior and when your brand gets destroyed, new up-and-comers replace your service. it doesn’t seem in the vein of USV to make investments in people who engage in these practices, so i’m assuming it’s just a one-off idiosyncracy, but sad nonetheless.

    1. jason wright

      Do you get the option to cancel and receive a refund?

      1. thoughtveesh

        no, only the option to discontinue future auto-renews. you don’t realize you’re going to get billed (because you assume the service will end after a month if you don’t renew), and then when you get a surprise receipt in your email, it informs you you’ve been charged and then gives you the option to turn off auto-renew for the future. do companies stop paying attention to these goodwill details once their VC valuations get high enough?

    2. John Revay

      In General I am suspect of any free offer when they ask for a CC. You just need to set a tickler on your calendar to reminder you of the 30 day period.In Fairness – it helps weed out people who really only want something free for 30 days and might not have much intent to continue – post 30 days.I once ran a business that sold on line back up, you would be amazed at the number of people who just needed a place to dump files while they got a new PC, and needed a way to port the files from new to old….. What made matters worst is that we offered a live tech support, and we would get people calling for help w/ the file porting, you knew these people had no intent from the beginning to using your service on a long term basis.

      1. Richard

        Sorry, this is a scam. Companies could just tie the charge to activity. No activity no charge.

      2. Ken

        It also weeds out some people who’d use a “rolling tryout” approach to just continue to use your service. Anyone with their own domain or who uses gmail and understands that “[email protected]” will be delivered to your “[email protected]” account can just keep signing up for free months. Requiring a valid CC# and checking to ensure you don’t have that (hashed, encrypted) # on file fliters out those folks rather easily.

    3. fredwilson

      I am not a fan of non transparent practices either

  6. John Revay

    Lots of good stuff, makes you stop and think bigger picture all that is going on around us, and raises flags about what might be on the horizon. ( I need to spend more time reading and engaging over at )I liked his comment @ USV, we hired an “Activist in Residence” sounds disruptive.Good links to and hopefully these will not loose traction.Good to see OpenGarden – wondering if we will see that on the USV roster someday soon. ( I remember the funny line a while ago re: TechCrunch Disrupt – “The choice of the winner and the runner up was almost unanimous except for a lone nutjob who liked a different one.”)

  7. Bruce Warila

    In the ‘open’ versus ‘closed’ internet argument, the thing that always seems missing for me is preserving the capacity for an artist to scale his business like a software developer. As a lightweight investor, art (music) is no longer attractive as a potential investment on a cost-to-scale analysis basis; I stick to working with startups now instead. “Duh!”, as one commenter will surely point out, but tilting the world toward one kind of creator versus another…just seems wrong to me.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think that is at all what is happening. i think the developers are building the tools to allow the artists to profit directly from their work instead of having to sell it off to investors.

      1. Bruce Warila

        Except artists (music for example) need angels and an ‘investor’ ecosystem that enables them to reach a scale where direct selling can sustain the artist. Reaching 100 million+ spins is a long climb, and I am not sure many will get there on the back of concentric KickStarter campaigns. It could happen? At this point, you can count the number of artists that have reached sustainable scale (don’t have to perform until they die; like rockstar developers) without an investment or an advance…on two fingers. I am all for Albert’s arguments if you all can sprinkle in a nod to copyright protection once and a while. However that seems inconceivable to this audience 🙂

  8. Richard

    A good book on Alberts premise is the 2006 book by Yoochan Benkler, the wealth of networks. I agreed  with the both the book then and Albert now and  this is what troubles me.  Is it a little to early to call to conclude the “wealth” of networks? After all, we have borrowed close to $ 10 trillion over the last 20 years to finance and run the network. Is peer to peer of any ” blank ” industry necessarily more efficient? As Albert said the future is just beginning, let’s not be too quick to to give this the conference up and down head nod.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      The infrastructure and education to create on this infrastructure first has to be funded before the full benefits can start to be realized. This is why the push to having everyone being able to be a developer is so important, as it essentially becomes a way that will allow everyone to create certain freedoms that controlled ecosystems may try to prevent from happening.Thank you for the book recommendation too! Bookmarked!

  9. Richard

    My personal favorite, the logistics model begins with a slow growth, followed by a period of moderate growth, and then back to a period of slow growth. It has an upper limit that cannot be exceeded.Of interest is that networks are often desribed by having “expodebtial growth”.  This is somewhat misleading, a more accurate description is having  Logistic Growth, which is  linear in the early stages, then expodetial and then saturated. 

  10. Jay Janney

    We had storms yesterday knockinbg out power, so i didn’t get to weigh in on this.I’m rooting for Espana. I love how they move the ball about, how they often score on crossings, at the goal. Just a lot of fun to watch. In 2010 I was teaching in Augsburg, during World Cup. Most cities of any size had a massive outdoor screen to watch the games, and you could order dinner and drinks, and watch. In the evening I’d head over and catch a game or so, didn’t matter whow as playing, hundreds (if not thousands) on hand in the evening. My flight out of Munchen was delayed 8 hours (sigh!), but they had set up a giant tv in the plaza at the airport (the plaza connects to the subway, and you first enter the plaza before going on to security. That plaza was wall to wall people, heavily decked to in team colors. and did I mention LOUD? I couldn’t hear the jets take off…The plaza is alrger than a bball arena, so I’d guess easily 10,000 people there. I think they played Slovakia, who won. You don’t need to go to a world cup stadium to have fun with world cup–any euro city will do!

  11. bsoist

    Great stuff!Dilbert covered “non-practicing entities” today too. :)…

    1. andyidsinga

      classic! thanks for sharing that.

  12. Vineeth Kariappa

    Thank you for sharing this.

  13. bernardlunn

    wonderful and important talk – nothing else to say

  14. raycote

    Fred this is one of your best posts ever !Ok – Now I’ll play the role of the ranting wing-nut!Why not – I’m well practiced.WE ARE ON THE ROAD TO DIGITAL SERFDOM !Ultimately TECHNOLOGY IS THE SUBSTRATEthat frames the outer envelop of all humanly possibleCOMMUNITY-SYNCHRONIZATION-PATTERNS- (organic networks of social synchronization)- – – or – – -as McLuhan would say”THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE”- – – or – – -our TECHNOLOGICAL-MEDIUM delimits the spectrum, the palette, of our available toolsetfor modulating the fabric of history with the mother go all HUMAN biospheric messagesmankind’s pivital BIOLOGICAL-EVOLUTIONARY-MESSAGEultimately mankind’s big Kahuna message = THE EFFECT of our historical footprintOne contemporary big picture framing of this process could be:INNOVATIVE-DISRUPTION in networking ecosystems is transformingLINEAR-VALUE-CHAINSinto socially-embodied / network-synchronizedORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORKSThe big question/hope is who will ultimately control these evolving ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORKS.Will they be opaque, faux-organic, centrally controlled social-networking-structures that just extend the historical mould of top down oligarchic pyramidal strangle holds on wealth, power, education and control?Will there be true bottom up, organically distributed periphery control over the central levers that steer the distribution of wealth, power, education and capital allocation control?Centralized servers are quickly distilling and consolidating control over all the processes for dishing up our ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORK data/processes to us from huge corporately owned big-data-silos. These centralized-power-base topographies simply reconfigures and amplifies by orders of magnitude the same old oligarchic top-down forces by translating McLuhan’s”the medium is the message”- – – into – – -“he who controls the medium controls the message”- – – into – – -“he who controls the NETWORK-medium controls the ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORK-message”The original concept of the internet was a web of peers where all nodes/players are potenially equal. All could play the role of server or client.Following that evolutionary digital-democracy road-map requires that all nodes/player can (or not) serve up their own data with their own accompanying access permissions into centralized big-data-silos operating under some form of democratic-community-policy-control over just how those ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORKS will be structured to server the at-large organic community interests.Democratic structures are now being redefined, if not fully subsumed, by their convergence with social-networking topographies..The sheer complexity and abstraction embodied in these new ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORKS makes it almost impossible for most people to visualize, to appreciate, to participate in any meaningful democratic community debate about how we should construct this brave-new-world into a workable digitally-organic-democracy.Like all bygone surfs most of us are now largely locked out. Only the new digital high-priests and medicine-men have the inner knowledge required to represent our interests.Most of these digital high-priests and medicine-men will be seduced into the service of the big-money oligarchs. Like the rest of us they need to make a living in the real world. But some tenacious souls will be vision-driven-refuseniks and will choose instead to represent the larger democratic cause of organic-digital-democracy.It seem very unlikely these digital visionaries can expect to receive any significant ground swell of financial or even moral support from the larger community as there is no significantly loud, prominent, accessible to the rest of us, public debate occurring around such complex social-network abstractions.The near miraculous power and convenience of all these corporate centred ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORKS are like a wonderfully suductive and empowering pied-piper.A little collective introspection probably suggests that this is an unavoidable technically obligatory developmental stage. We need to put in this experimental water under the bridge learning curve time on these simpler centralized ORGANIC-COMMUNITY-VALUE-NETWORK synchronizing topographies before we can graduate to constructing much more organically complex and thus more democratically distributive COMMUNITY-VALUE-NETWORK synchronizing topographies.And now we get to the part of the rant where I get to shout outTHE SKY IS FALLING! – THE SKY IS FALLING!A key features of distributively-adaptive-synchronizing-networks(organic-networks) is their tenacious homeostatic-set-point gravity-well lock-in propensity.IN OTHER WORDS !Welcome to the new FEUDAL LORDDefinitely NOT the same as the THE OLD FEUDAL LORDTHIS ONE IS ORGANICALLY STICKY – HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARESOME GROVES MAY BE MUCH DEEPER THAN THEY FIRST APPEAR!OK. . OK – I’m not advocating outright panic !JUST SAYING WE NEED TO BE VERY CARFUL.Not to fall into a digital PANOPTICON on our way to the future!

    1. fredwilson

      so what should we do about that?

      1. raycote

        Heycan’t you at least cut and old fool some slack around here once in a while ?A rant by definition, at least for me, is blowing off steam about a somewhat intractable problem!That sense of powerless frustration that comes of not being able to identify a fruitful course of action with any realistic chance of success given the underlying constraints is what generates the steam that drives a rant.But thendown to earth, solution focused, people like you Fred come along and stick a pin in that rant with sobering unconscionably pointed questions like:”so what should we do about that?” HOW DARE YOU SIR?ALL KIDDING ASIDEas I’ve pointed out before here, I realize that I am an interloper on this site! There are a lot of very smart solution focused yet fun and personable discussions that go on here. I read your blog nearly everyday. I learn a lot and I am often introduced to perspectives that trigger reframing of both problems and solutions and I pick off many great links here that help further that process. I only comment the odd time when the topic matter overlaps with my pet sensibility, reframing issues around what I see as a powerful widely reusable and scalable metaphor/lexicon of organically-networked-process-synchronicity.For me Albert’s talk was both invigorating and compelling because it so effectively brought into focus the importance of what is and can be done by developers and other web focused professionals to protect and enrich an internet framework that makes organically-networked-process-synchronicities(ORGANIC-VALUE-NETWORKS) widely reusable and scalable not just technically but also generally across all social processes.That is what triggered my rant. The sense that such efforts have very little public profile nor the fertile ground for popular traction. Combine that with an appreciation of just how overpowering is the stasis lock-in of the network-effect and you create enough fret and friction to drive a rant.I keep casting about for a solutions but frankly I see only the TIME honored solution. Over TIME the disservices inherent in a process’s design, its failings, its weaknesses, its limited environmental scope of fitness, the designed in seeds of its own destruction will slowly surface until the accrual of enough pain begs for a redesigned solution. The old school of trial and error hard knocks that so ubiquitously scales the learning process form cells to nation-state cultures.As technology accelerates, especially under organic-level-mixing network-effect conditions, we surly reach a scaling point at which the negitive-cycle consequence of the trial-and-error learning process itself collapses into an existential threat. Like a cognitive-learning-process black hole that consumes the very trial-and-error guideway that has shepherded all cognitive process evolution till this point. I sense we are nearing a cognitive-evolution-process phase-transition-point where self-referential collective-introspection and advanced simulation techniques will be required to push past, or at least augment, the hull speed inherent in pure trial and error strategies.I was kind of hoping the sharp and imaginative crowd here would rip that rant to shreds with potentially accelerant solutions.

        1. fredwilson

          so we just have to be patient?

          1. raycote

            “All things come to he who waits – provided he knows what he is waiting for”TRANSLATIONYou need to put the right catchment filter on that waitingSurely DNA viewed as a generically federated biospheric-API has some lesson for us ?

      2. vruz

        I love seeing Albert being USV’s own b1tch :-)Kudos to @raycote tooRegarding the question… what should we do?We should be trying to support more distributed technologies, and less centrally-controlled websites.I get bored of mainstream web discussions revolving around the same topics, when some of these problems have already been at least addressed / thought of elsewhere.The guys who are solving these problems are hacking away, avoiding precisely this type of improductive chatter, mostly ignoring big capital, New York and Silicon Valley altogether.I’ve found it quite impossible to even get a conversation started about networks and real value without ending up in some conversation about how this thing is going to get us x100 ROI.I actually don’t give a damn about x100 ROI, we need to get serious or the Internet is going to look exactly like the 3 red horizontal bars of Albert’s presentation.We need to get started talking about real, lasting value for the next 100 years, and markets of human scale.That means not an IPO, not the next quarter, not x100 returns.Which means no Facebook, not a stupid Disney apps garden, nor any of the other web 2.0 shit we’ve been witnessing for about 8 years now.The problem right now is not the law, or the inane owners of walled gardens. In the great scheme of things, they will be eventually sidestepped and forgotten, and we will have other battles to fight on different levels.We did that when we sidestepped the Microsoft PC desktop, we can do it again.The problem is also not the hackers.The problem is how capital is allocated, choosing a handful of maybes instead of thousands of cooperative practitioners, resembling more the open source way, and the way the web was built.The next wave of technology services will present unfathomable challenges which are impossible to be tackled by any single traditional corporation.Big capital can help and be part of the solution if they start to think according to the demands of the 21st. century.If big capital keep focusing on a handful of horses at the races, holding tightly onto a few maybe-lucky tickets, they will be missing out on tens of thousands of races getting started right now all over the world.Deconstructing and dismantling what didn’t work too well in the end is the first step.

  15. Richard

    Imagine the message that AVC would send if they would not fund any company that had  founders who either smoked or had BMI (body mass indexes) more than 20% above the national average? 

  16. andyidsinga

    re facebook account @ approx 7:10 ..need to create a “junk” facebook account for all of these things that require login to facebook. Very reminiscent of having a junk email account.I finally did this the other day so that I could use Microsoft’s on{x} app ..which IMHO is pretty slick.

  17. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    just added this to my list of things to do on Sunday before the Euro Cup final!

  18. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Major food for thought on a Sunday. The timing is interesting in regards to Friday’s post on the Twitter Dev blog and all the speculation about the growing wall around their garden.At the moment I’m in the “Twitter will eat itself” camp, if Twitter starts choking off its developers and ecosystem. Something else will take its place.