CREATe is the RCUK centre for copyright and new business models in the creative economy. With an ambitious programme of 40 projects delivered by an interdisciplinary team of academics (law, cultural economics, management, computer science, sociology, psychology, ethnography and critical studies), CREATe is a pioneering academic initiative designed to help the UK cultural and creative industries thrive and become innovation leaders within the global digital economy.
Here at Horizon, we are seeking to deploy social networking services that are open, distributed, autonomous, and federated. The Internet founders had as a key principle that services should be open and standardised, and in implementation and management, distributed and autonomous; this underpins the fundamental services of naming (DNS), email (SMTP), file transfer (FTP) and the web (HTTP and URIs). This approach admits of different administrative polices, and heterogeneous business models, as appropriate to the context; for example: at work we are used to acceptable use and retention polices on email which are simply irrelevant for personal accounts; ISPs provide email as part of the broadband package whereas service providers such as Google and MSFT using data mining as a source of revenue to provide “free” email services.
However, many recently emerging services on the internet are purely commercially driven, where the desire to capitalise on first mover advantage and to try and corner the market is a natural imperative. We are seeing the emergence of closed and proprietary solutions that often encapsulate a primary visible business model (e.g. advertising), and the richness of the ecosystem is much reduced. In the creative sector, in particular the record industry, this is reducing from what many considered an unhealthily small number of companies to an even smaller number of global services providers currently fighting it out in the market place with a paucity of business models at play.
Within this project we particularly focus on the ongoing battle between social networking providers and the associated social search services, and observe that the economy is not well served by a choice between closed, proprietary and centralised systems. The centralisation is particularly disturbing as business relationships are stifled if the provider of such a service has visibility of all of the users’ activities; we already see the problem in the lack of use of social networking for customer relationship management – on one hand it would be a great mechanism for customer interaction but no rational company would use a single supplier for such a critical component of its business.
Hence returning to the basic principles of the Internet founders, we seek to design, implement and deploy social networking services that are open, distributed, autonomous, and federated. Importantly the deployment of such a platform would be open to all as it would be based on open standards; indeed we would aim to foster rapid deployment through the provision of an open source implementation and activities to build an open source community around this; hence artists, agents, promoters, venues and others would be free to offer an interoperable service, open to all, each instantiation of which can be tailored to that actor’s business interest and revenue model and which can proceed in the knowledge that their information is not being accessed and exploited by global service providers.
More information at the CREATe website.