The Industrial Age concept of a team is not appropriate for collaboration on the Internet
The Midwich Cuckoos
In a way, this phenomenon of the e-mail discussion forum, manifests a metaphysical effect similar to that enjoyed by the alien children in John Wyndham's book the Midwich Cuckoos. The spine chilling story of The Midwich Cuckoos has been portrayed in a couple of movies, the most notable of which was the 1960s version entitled "Village of the Damned". In this story, all the women in a village suddenly become pregnant and it turns out that each has been impregnated by an alien force as means to take control of the earth.
As all the implanted alien children grow up, it becomes apparent that they have several supernatural powers that give them powerful advantages over the villagers. Not least among these supernatural powers is an ability to tele-communicate their thoughts to each other. In essence this meant that what one alien child knew the others would also know. In effect, they had a common mind.
Such a power gave the alien children an overwhelming advantage in their conflict with the villagers. At the time John Wyndham wrote this book, it was inconceivable that human's would ever evolve a way to acquire this power themselves. Yet, this is almost exactly what Special Interest Internet Forums are achieving. These manifestations of the Internet allow a group of people to have a common mind, such that what one knows everyone else can know as well. This has very significant implications for the future of e-business and e-commerce strategies.
Even more remarkable than the ability of the Internet to provide the metaphysical effect of a common mind is the significance of these special interest group forums on the structure of the business model. Up until the Internet, the way to design a product to adequately satisfy client needs was through market research techniques that interrogate potential customers to determine their requirements and preferences. This is basically a static process where results are analysed and appropriate conclusions drawn.
Internet forums, such as Direct-L, provide a dynamic environment in which to assess client needs, preferences, reactions, acceptance and satisfaction. Potentially a far more effective technique than the classical methods of market research. It costs nothing to run and is self perpetuating and self-organising.
Not only can these Internet forums replace the need for conventional marketing research strategies, they can also replace the need for design initiatives. Product design can be taken out of the hands of product developers and independently provided by the customers.
It seems that a bizarre and emergent effect of the Internet is to create a situation where customers design their own products. This is one of the unpredictable outcomes of a dynamic complex system. Its ramifications for the future of business procedures and strategy are inestimable.
From an entrepreneurs point of view, from a solution provider's point of view, from a corporate strategist's point of view, from a middleman's point of view, from an expert's point of view: simply becoming involved in one of these forums provides exactly the same kind of business creation information as I found in Hyper Hyper.