Looking beyond the ‘walled gardens': prospectives for publishers and ICT collaborations

Are we Candide or Spartacus?

Editech 2013 was the first TISP-related event. Very interesting conference, as a whole, even when some individual speakers underperformed in comparison to my (high) expectation. Let’s take the James McQuivey‘s speech. Excellent speech, indeed, though very much inspired by Pangloss. What did he say relevant to our project (i.e.: about technological innovation, partnership and business models)? He suggested to abandon the idea of long term approach, preferring short term disruptions, and to look for partnerships. This second is the core of our project to stimulate. So, my question is, in particular to our ICT friends: how to create stable relations between publishers and IT companies in times of continuous disruptions?

Many other parts of the speech were very much ideological, in my view, trying to describe sort of digital wonderland. There was a point that crossed the discussion we had the day before: the need to think in user-centered way. According to McQuivey this is the market trend: user is king and we already live in the ‘the best of all possible worlds’ (here I recognised Pangloss).

I would see in the opposite way: the actual market trend in the digital web economy is towards the domination of few very big intermediaries operating at global level. They create closed environment that somebody calls ‘walled gardens‘ and I prefer calling ‘golden jails‘, where both users and content/service providers are prisoners.

So the question for TISP is: do we see ourselves as Candide, listening with great enthusiasm to all the Panglosses that will speak at our conferences, enjoying the fruits and the freshness of the existing small gardens, or do we see as Spartacus, trying to break the walls of the garden to get a look outside?

And, above all, which of the two attitudes is more ‘user-centered’?

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