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Networked Markets Are Democratic, Structured Markets Are Republican

Today I was checking out Michelle's A Small Victory. There are threads on self-publishing that mutated into a dispute about trolls, who was a troll, and whether linking to Little Green Footballs was as "un-nuanced" as linking to "Democratic Underground."

At one point a troll popped up and I had to blogroll him! The Troll Patrol. It's protected troll habitat, and of course I had to say that, daring them to do their worst. and taunting them with my Trolls Unlimited Cafepress Section

And then I commented a couple of threads at Michelle's, making the point that she might wish to use cafepress to publish a book she's working on - and should probably have tee-shirts with the Best Bon Mots of the Day. To show that Zazzle.com was the way to go there, I posted this:

Ok... now, is this trollery, shrewed marketing, editorial comment or what?

Well, it's all of the above - and a new clue about the new networked economy.

I've made the point before that money is in a way simply Representative of ideas in motion - just as are goods and services.

Zazzle.com and Cafepress.com are two examples of new, consumer-creator driven media - the antithesis of top-down marketing models. They are viral, marketed between friends and among interest groups and can be intensely topical. There's no investment barrier. I create artwork or write words, and I "sell" those images and words. The company merely puts the images on the chosen media, and they make their money on that.

They are both making MORE money by realizing that they do not have to shape the tastes and opinions of their consumers. And as I stated in Jump on the Cluetrain - that means people are the new brands.

Michelle is a brand. I am a brand. Tacitus and Dkos are brands.

But the traditional brands - for peas and pajamas and politics - those are in deep, deep trouble.

The vast uncommitted center in the upcoming election will not be voting for a republican or a democrat. They will be voting for either the George Bush brand or the John Kerry brand - neither of which bears a great resemblance to the traditional, bland and homogeneous image of their respective parties.

And it's worth checking out how people are playing on those brands:

Anti Bush activists are vitriolic.

Pro Kerry can be summed up as "being praised with faint damns."

Pro Bush is almost all anti-bush, with a few genuine items that prove that those few that are for bush and are on Cafepress are somewhat conventional-minded, humor-impaired, or just plain freaky-nuts.

I'm interpreting this as being simply that social conservatives view this sort of venue as sheer anarchist chaos with no focused central message.

And it is an antiathoritarian venue for sure, because (with certain vague and tiny limitations), you can say whatever the hell you like on a Cafepress product, and benefit by it - or not. The market determines if anyone gives a damn about your "brand" of speech.

As Papa Heinlein observed; "Money is the sincerest form of applause."

About The Author

Bob King writes regularly for Graphictruth.com and Wall/Fire eZines. He can be reached by email at webcarve@graphictruth.com.

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