Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The Power Of Us

Filed under
Sci/Tech

Skype, a program that lets them make free calls over the Internet, with better sound quality than regular phones, using headsets connected to their PCs. Callers simply click on a name in their Skype contact lists, and if the person is there, they connect and talk just like on a regular phone call. "Better quality at no cost," exults Meiosys Chief Executive Jason Donahue. Poof! Almost 90% of his firm's $2,000 monthly long-distance phone bill has vanished. With 41 million people now using Skype, plus 150,000 more each day, it's no wonder AT&T (T ) and MCI Inc. (MCIP ) are hanging it up.

A big, hairy, monstrous organism, that is. The nearly 1 billion people online worldwide -- along with their shared knowledge, social contacts, online reputations, computing power, and more -- are rapidly becoming a collective force of unprecedented power. For the first time in human history, mass cooperation across time and space is suddenly economical. "There's a fundamental shift in power happening," says Pierre M. Omidyar, founder and chairman of the online marketplace eBay Inc. (EBAY ) "Everywhere, people are getting together and, using the Internet, disrupting whatever activities they're involved in."

Behold the power of us. It's the force behind the collective clamor of Weblogs that felled CBS (VIA ) anchorman Dan Rather and rocked the media establishment. Global crowds of open-source Linux programmers are giving even mighty Microsoft Corp. (MSFT ) fits. Virtual supercomputers, stitched together from millions of volunteers' PCs, are helping predict global climate change, analyze genetic diseases, and find new planets and stars. One investment-management firm, Marketocracy Inc., even runs a sort of stock market rotisserie league for 70,000 virtual traders. It skims the cream of the best-performing portfolios to buy and sell real stocks for its $60 million mutual fund.

Although tech companies may be leading the way, their efforts are shaking up other industries, including entertainment, publishing, and advertising. Hollywood is under full-scale assault by 100 million people sharing songs and movies online via programs such as Kazaa and BitTorrent. The situation is the same with ad-supported media: Google Inc.'s (GOOG ) ace search engine essentially polls the collective judgments of millions of Web page creators to determine the most relevant search results. In the process, it has created a multibillion-dollar market for supertargeted ads that's drawing money from magazine display ads and newspaper classifieds.

Most telling, traditional companies, from Procter & Gamble Co. (PG ) to Dow Chemical Co., are beginning to flock to the virtual commons, too. The potential benefits are enormous. If companies can open themselves up to contributions from enthusiastic customers and partners, that should help them create products and services faster, with fewer duds -- and at far lower cost, with far less risk. LEGO Group uses the Net to identify and rally its most enthusiastic customers to help it design and market more effectively. Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY ), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP ), and others are running "prediction markets" that extract collective wisdom from online crowds, which help gauge whether the government will approve a drug or how well a product will sell.

At the same time, peer power presents difficult challenges for anyone invested in the status quo. Corporations, those citadels of command-and-control, may be in for the biggest jolt. Increasingly, they will have to contend with ad hoc groups of customers who have the power to join forces online to get what they want. Indeed, customers are creating what they want themselves -- designing their own software with colleagues, for instance, and declaring their opinions via blogs instead of waiting for newspapers to print their letters. "It's the democratization of industry," says C.K. Prahalad, a University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business professor and co-author of the 2004 book The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. "We are seeing the emergence of an economy of the people, by the people, for the people."

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

How to Run Android Apps and Games on Linux

Want to run Android apps on Linux? How about play Android games? Several options are available, but the one that works the best is Anbox, a useful tool that runs your favorite Android apps on Linux without emulation. Here’s how to get it up and running on your Linux PC today. Read more Also: 8 Best Android Apps For Kids To Help Children Learn With Fun | 2018 Edition

SUSE: openSUSE Tumbleweed and SUSE in HPC

  • Krita, Linux Kernel, KDEConnect Get Updated in Tumbleweed
    There have been a few openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots released in the past two weeks that brought some new features and fixes to users. This blog will go over the past two snapshots. The last snapshot, 20180416, had several packages updated. The adobe-sourceserifpro-fonts package updated to version 2.000; with the change, the fonts were refined to make the Semibold and Bold heavier. Both dbus-1 and dbus-1-x11 were updated to 1.12.6, which fixed some regreations introduced in version 1.10.18 and 1.11.0. The gtk-vnc 0.7.2 package deprecated the manual python2 binding, which will be deleted in the next release, in favor of GObject introspection. Notifications that caused a crash were fixed in kdeconnect-kde 1.3.0. The 4.16.2 Linux Kernel made ip_tunnel, ipv6, ip6_gre, ip6_tunnel and vti6 better to validate user provided tunnel names. Due to a build system failure, not all 4.16.2 binaries were built correctly; this will be resolved in the 20180417 snapshot, which will be released shortly. Krita 4.0.1 had multiple fixes from its major version upgrade. The visual diff and merge tool meld 3.19.0 added new features like a new per-pane status bar with selectors for syntax highlighting and text encoding. Python Imaging Library python-Pillow 5.1.0 removed the freetype-2.9.patch and YaST had several packages with a version bump.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing in the SLE 15 Beta Program!
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Prepares HPC Module
    The upcoming release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 is offering an HPC (High Performance Computing) module for development, control, and compute nodes. Today that SLE15-HPC module is now available in beta.

OPNsense 18.1.6

For more than 3 years now, OPNsense is driving innovation through modularising and hardening the code base, quick and reliable firmware upgrades, multi-language support, fast adoption of upstream software updates as well as clear and stable 2-Clause BSD licensing. Read more

Turris MOX is a Modular & Open Source Router

A company from the Czech Republic is trying to raise money to bring a modular and open source router to the public. It has a number of features that can’t be found in the current line up of routers available for purchase. Read more