The following are a list of some of the works that helped me formulate the ideas that make up mediAgora and inspired me to write this:
The basic ideas of spontaneous orders, markets as information transmissions, and how trading creates value through voluntary exchange I got through reading inspired by my father. The link above is to a paper of his entitled Two Kinds of Order on the difference between order that is designed and order that is grown.
The Cluetrain Manifesto and Gonzo Marketing
Cluetrain has been described as 'marketing executives that defected to the market'. It explains how the net breaks all the assumptions of the broadcast model, and how markets are conversations.
Gonzo Marketing is a free-wheeling rant I couldn't hope to emulate, so I'll just quote a bit:
...nearly all business approaches to the Internet shoot for a mass market. "Let's see, it'll cost us a million-five for the site and another mil for the ad campaign, but think of all the ways we can monetize a billion clicks! We'll hit breakeven inside 90 days. Cool! How soon can we IPO?"
Uh-huh. But it ends up costing three times as much -- and no one shows. Meanwhile, some teenager puts up a page of dancing hamsters that pulls eighty-three bajillion hits in two weeks -- so many that her ISP's server melts down. Total cost: twenty-nine dollars.
But does business make the correct inference from this? Does anyone in the boardroom say "Jeepers! They'd rather be looking at singing rodents than our zillion-dollar e-commerce site!" Generally speaking, this realization is strenuously deprecated.
As well as through these books, Chris Locke, David Weinberger and Doc Searls have all, through many online conversations and provocations, helped me clarify my thinking.
Lawrence Lessig's clear and thoughtful books explain how different approaches shape our actions - laws, norms, markets and architecture. One of the many concepts that Lessig explains is the idea of liability vs property - a key part of mediAgora is assigning rights to conform with a uniform liability rather than a per-case negotiation.
David Weinberger has written a profound book, discussing the way the net shapes our thoughts and behaviour, and reflects what we bring to it. From it I draw the idea that if you go looking for thieves and pirates you will find them, but if you go looking for honest customers who appreciate your work, you will find them too, and that they are much more interesting to find.
Bruce Schneier's follow-up to the authoritative Applied Cryptography explains how encryption isn't a panacea and that what counts is designing your system so it is robust even when people don't behave as you would like.
Robert Wright applies game theory to economic, social and evolutionary history in this clear exposition of how non-zero-sum actions (sharing, trading, co-operating) win out over zero-sum ones (hoarding, stealing fighting).
Kevin Kelly's book (full text linked above) examines emergent behaviour, and spontaneous orders, and how to create them. Also the essay The Web Runs on Love not Greed is very apposite.
This is the book in which Dawkins best explained the 'meme' idea, which underlies a lot of the thinking in the other books above.
His thoroughly researched and detailed essays on the History of Communications, Content is not King, Micropayments and the relative growth rates of network infrastructure and local storage all repay further reading.
Malcolm Gladwell tells stories of how people connect into networks of association, and how ideas move through these networks. This fits in very well with the Promoters idea of mediAgora.
Creators who need a new system
Many, many Webloggers
Friends and family
Lots of you have listened to me talk about this at huge length over the last year or so, and helped me clarify my thoughts by incisive comments. Particular thanks to Rosie, Cordelia, Peter, Chris, Stuart, Sam and Dean.
Copyright Kevin Marks 2001-2002