What’s the defining value driving the ‘web 2.0.’ where, to quote Jeremy Zawodny, ‘vendors think of themselves as not just service providers or hardware vendors’ but as platforms for developers? Jon Udell put it well in a post about the new event databases that are popping up. He thinks there’s room for many different services:

If you want a seat at the table you just need to have good table manners, and that really comes down to one simple rule: don’t lock in my data. Services that try to do that will fail because, in the final analysis, social applications are powered by the people who co-create them. We’ll use online services to help us create and organize our information, but we’ll use them opportunistically. Services won’t own our information. We’ll migrate it freely to wherever it works best for us.

We could call this the dinner table perspective: we’re all contributors, and the point is to have an enjoyable conversation together. The idea of value as necessitating a process of co-creation—not merely viewing it as an inconsequential if welcome sideshow—is quite distinct in comparison to the one in Joachim Buschken’s recent book Higher Profits Through Customer Lock-In. According to the book summary:

For the most part, Customer Satisfaction programs are ineffective. Companies need to strive for Customer Lock-in. Customers are locked into a company’s product when the switching costs are high. This could result from the product being integrated into the companies’ business systems. Thus, managers must ask themselves, ‘How can I increase the switching costs of my customer?’

This could be called the prison perspective: customers are inmates, and the point is to keep them from escaping. If they are happy in their cells that’s cool but in the end, it’s the efficiency of the locks that determines the profits of the business. It’s interesting to think about the practices and arrangements that continue to reproduce both rationalities in their own worlds… and how one might subvert them ;)

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