Co-op, Community Building, Sharing

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Maybe Women Should Run the Web!
by Mike Banks Valentine

We all know that the idea of business on the web came on with
a roar and now lies whimpering and licking its wounds in the
safety of the shadows. Who was the enemy? Who or what was it
that clawed and scraped the potential of online business so
brutally that early enthusiasts are now seen as foolish, wild-
eyed dreamers? What brought down an idea that was bigger and
more powerful than a raging beast at full roar?

The Greed Monster. Greed and fear always do this to us.

Greed drives the spammers that clog the in-boxes of even the
most casual email user. They promise instant gratification of
our every desire -- financial or erotic. Just send your money.

Greed drove the venture capitalists that dumped huge amounts of
cash into poorly conceived ideas for internet businesses. Early
VC losses can be directly tied to the greed factor in investing.
"Gimme your money and fast!"

Greed drives the multi-level marketing programs that quickly
sprouted wings online as more promises of instant wealth were
strewn across the web. "Just send your money, hurry while there
is still time to get in on the ground floor!"

Greed drove the corporate behemoths to launch "web initiatives"
so they might beat their competition online. "Hurry before our
competition kills us and drains our profits!" But to what end?

So now that we know the enemy. What do we do to vanquish him?
I use the masculine here because it evokes the warrior image.
Maybe the failure is in applying traditional male attributes
to the web. Power, fighting, hunting and killing don't work on
the web. What does work?

Co-operation, community building, helpfulness and sharing. All
attributes that are applied most often to women and are seen as
feminine qualities.

We may be better off seeing this medium as a feminine one.
When looking for valid business models online, just take a
look at what works and who is making it work.

Membership models proliferate online where sites seek our
opinions and want us to "join in." Most successful web sites
encourage visitor participation and feedback in discussion

Ebay asks for ratings of active sellers from the buyers
of their products. The highest ratings earn more business.
Amazon publishes reader reviews of purchased books and
encourages you to "Be the first to review this book!"
People read those reviews and appreciate them.

Personalization and community building are incorporated into
all of the major portals. Discussion forums are available at
every one of the major online publishers. The web encourages
communication and sharing of knowledge - not hoarding, hiding
and greedily seeking to outsmart the consumer.

America Online pioneered in community building and was
rewarded with rapid growth and customer loyalty. I believe
they have lost their way now as greed leads them to keep a
fence around their technology, refusing to allow their AIM
instant messaging system to be accessed by non-members.

Greed, exclusion, proprietary systems and monopolistic
megacorporations are giving way to community, inclusion,
open source code and peer-to-peer sharing and swapping of
information. As long as old ideas are applied to the web
it will go nowhere. Napster was killed by the monster.

Online content providers are talking "Digital Rights
Management" and seeking ways to "monetize content", which
simply means monopolizing information. Scarcity doesn't
work online. Community building, cooperation and being
helpful, open, giving and sharing does work.

Businesses that work those traditionally feminine ideas
into their online vision will be the winners on the web.

WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Ezine emphasizing small business online
e-tutorial online at:
By week's end you're ready expand your business to the web!

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July 29, 2001