Understanding FanBox's Purpose, part 3:
Revolution on "pause"
Like all prior revolutions, the Knowledge Revolution also needs technological advancements to make its workers -- Knowledge Workers -- more efficient.
But this has not happened:
· One doctor can only see 30 patients a day, virtually the same as 100 years ago.
· One lawyer can only represent a few clients; same as 100 years ago.
· One teacher can only serve 30 students; again, the same as 100 years ago.
To be fair, there have been some productivity gains.
· Using telephones, sales people can make more sales calls.
· Using personal computers, typing is faster with word processing, and calculating forms got faster with spreadsheets.
· Other software has made other specific tasks more efficient too.
However, the massive productivity gains that we witnessed in the industrial, agriculture, scientific and renaissance periods – that brought profound advancements such as the printing press -- have simply not occurred.
Only 15 years ago, we all thought the greatest invention of our era would be the Internet and the World Wide Web.
The Web was supposed to ignite the productivity of Knowledge Workers!
· We thought each teacher would be teaching hundreds of students using the Web.
That didn’t happen.
· We thought lawyers would be going to court via sessions on the Web.
That didn’t happen.
· We thought doctors would be helping many times more patients – by using the Web.
That didn’t happen.
Significant productivity gains have simply not occurred.
Again, to be fair, the Web brought us:
Better and cheaper communications: Email, social networking and Skype
More entertainment: YouTube
More information and news: Google
However, the Web has not yet brought us -- the world’s Knowledge Workers -- significant productivity gains.
To illustrate and better understand the problem, let’s use 3 examples of Knowledge Workers:
· A personal trainer
· A plumber
Before the Web, to get compensated for their work, musicians had to score a recording contract from one of the big music labels, who would distribute their music to record stores around the world.
Getting a music contract was harder than winning the lottery. You not only had to be good, but you had to get lucky. Very lucky.
When the Web came around, musicians rejoiced! All of a sudden, you could load your music onto MySpace, and voila! Your music was being distributed to anyone who was interested -- anywhere!
Soon, you had thousands of fans around the world!! Amazing!!! Musicians were finally free!!!
Or were they?
Today, those same musicians, with thousands of fans around the world, still make their primary living from waiting tables in restaurants and similar jobs.
Imagine if musicians could get even a little bit of compensation for their work from each willing fan. They could quit their “day job” and focus full-time on the work they love to do.
A personal trainer:
Like many people I know, a friend of mine has joined a local gym, and works out on a regular basis. In fact, he has hired a personal trainer to coach him three times a week in 1-hour sessions.
His trainer has been training for many years, and as a result, has become amazing at helping people realize their fitness goals.
The trainer’s compensation, however, has not increased over these last few years, even as she has mastered her knowledge and skill. Reason: She can only train about 5 to 7 people each day.
A year ago, she invested in a video camera, and has created a number of training videos that she’s uploaded to YouTube -- teaching thousands of people how to get fit.
But that effort has failed to bring her compensation, so she stopped focusing on creating or improving her videos.
Imagine if she could get even a little bit of compensation from each student that benefits from her videos over the Web.
Instead of transporting her body to the gym daily to distribute her knowledge to 5-7 people per day, the trainer could instead distribute that same knowledge to thousands of people around the world, gaining the reputation and success a trainer with her knowledge level deserves.
Last week, my girlfriend called a plumber to have our garbage disposal fixed. The plumber told my girlfriend to make sure she was home between 2pm and 5pm to enable his visit, and it would probably cost $75 to fix the problem.
Around 6:30pm, my girlfriend called the plumber to see if he was still on his way. He apologized and explained that he had become very busy with other customers, and had lost track of time.
But he felt bad for making her wait for so many hours, so he said: “I'll tell you what. Go and grab a broom. Put the handle into the garbage disposal and turn it counter-clockwise 10 times. That will fix your problem”.
She did exactly that and 30 seconds later, the problem was fixed.
A plumber is a knowledge worker! He has knowledge that he uses to make money.
And like the personal trainer, he too can only see a limited number of clients each day to distribute (and earn money from) that knowledge.
Imagine if he too could distribute his knowledge using the Web. Not only could he make a lot more money, but he wouldn’t have to run around town all day – mostly for things that don’t really require a visit.
The plumber would also have higher job satisfaction, knowing that he was helping people accomplish their goals more quickly and cost effectively.
Instead, today (like so many knowledge workers) he has to live a little bit of a lie. He spends a lot of time going out to visit customers… just to fix a problem that he could have instantly told or shown them how to fix over the phone or Web.
In each of these cases, the Web has solved one part of the problem:
Distribution of knowledge from the Knowledge Worker to the Knowledge Consumer:
Indeed, today anyone can post their thoughts and writings, videos, music and applications on the Web FOR FREE, and millions of people can enjoy (and pass around) those morsels of knowledge (also known as content or media).
However, for this to be a business transaction, we need to return value – compensation – from the Knowledge Consumer back to the Knowledge Worker:
And it is in this precise spot that technology has thus far failed us.
The value chain is broken, and business continues to be conducted like before (back in the Industrial Revolution) by musicians, trainers and plumbers (and teachers, and lawyers, and doctors, and journalists, and …. all of us).
You know how your radio won't power up until it's plugged into the wall (and it's full 2-way circuit loop is connected)?
The economy is also a loop.
Until that last part of the economic loop is enabled, the Knowledge Revolution is as disconnected as a radio put away in the closet.
In the United States, unemployment is hovering around 10%.
All that means is that everyone is no longer needed to feed the masses.
We can continue to provide government assistance to prop up old manufacturing giants such as the U.S. automotive Big 3 (and only prolong the issue) -- or we can realize what’s really happening and commit to the future.
When the last part of the economic loop described above is solved -- it will mark the true beginning of the Web as a vehicle that creates massive gains in the productivity of workers.
It will also mark the beginning of the largest job creation period in global history – putting more people to work than all prior economic boom periods combined.
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