The rules are changing

Last Wednesday, Darla Mack complained about poor Nokia warranty support in the US.

Yesterday, it was already #5 in google.com, and #6 in google.fi, when you search for nokia warranty. All other pages are brochures or ebay announcements. It's therefore quite likely that if you are looking for Nokia warranty information (e.g. if you're planning to purchase a Nokia phone), you'll end up reading this rant. And since people probably keep linking to it, it'll float on the top for months, maybe years.

There's no way to tell what it leads to. It cost Kryptonite 10M USD in replacements after someone showed how to pick their locks with a ball point pen, and who knows how much in lost sales. On the other hand, no matter how negatively people write about Microsoft, they still make tons of money.

There has been negative and positive criticism throughout all of the internet. Mostly it's been limited to closed or semiopen groups of likeminded people (discussion boards, USENET, mailing lists, IRC). It's just that now single blog posts - single opinions - can become global influencers through the power of the search engines. These engines don't have any preprogrammed idea about corporate blurbs and corporate PR-folks being more reliable than anyone else. They play by new rules, born out of chaos and grey, devised by pale geeks in their dark chambers.

A lot of companies don't know how to play by these rules. The rules are not clear to begin with, and especially with the big behemoths it takes time for them to understand the game, and they refuse to enter the arena before they know what the rules are. The game scares them, because they are afraid to make mistakes. Some companies just go in, and play by the ear until they learn the rules. Others sit on the edge of the field, and try to figure out the rules by watching the players. Some companies get dragged into the game, kicking and screaming. Some can afford to ignore the game altogether, and keep going just like they have been doing for the past 200 years.

This "Web 2.0" -thing is like playing Calvinball on a global scale: nobody quite knows what the rules are, a lot of them are made on the spot, and winners can become losers overnight. (Calvinball is better, though, because you get to wear a cool mask. In Web 2.0 you have AJAX, but it's not that cool.)

The question is - what are the rules of the game? What do I tell people who ask why we should care about some blogger somewhere? Do they really matter, or is everyone just having self-delusional feelings of self-importance? How much would it cost to just ignore the internet? Can it be influenced, and how? How to win the game? Or should you just aim at surviving it?

(Disclaimer: I work for Nokia, but I am a private person and my opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the company, even if I am trying my best to make my opinions to be the company opinions as well, which is very unlikely to succeed, but I like to bang my head against walls anyway, just ask my colleagues, and thank you, I will go and make tea now.)




Comments

I think big corporations are still clinging on the illusion that they actually are in control. Things have changed but not everyone is willing to admit it yet. Well, in the long run even small things can cause big things to happen, just keep on banging. ;)

--Hrry, 03-Jan-2006


web 2.0 = calvinball: see also "wittgensteinball"

--martin, 04-Jan-2006


Thanks, martin (I fixed your link).

--JanneJalkanen, 04-Jan-2006


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