Scott Karp has written a great post about some assumptions common to the newspaper industry (like there has to be a way to reverse the declines, make the same profits, how they can't die because then journalism will die). What's wrong, he says, is the sense of entitlement. Entitlement to make money. Nobody has the right to a business model:
In this sense it's a little like advertising. Too many assumptions that people really care about your 30 second spot. Too little asking what kind of advertising people actually want. The title of Scott's post makes the point: The market and the internet don’t care if you make money.
As Esther Dyson has said, the profound change that the proliferation of social networking affects is that it teaches people to manage their own data. The complexity of managing multiple overlapping communities of contacts and services feels increasingly natural. As does the idea of controlling information about yourself online. As does the notion of being able to determine who that information is visible to, and who will be let into the garden.
I like what Matt Jones of Dopplr has said about how we should widen our exploration of social software again from "software for making friends" to "software that's better because there's people there", and that 'friend' as a categorisation is an extremely blunt instrument: "friend is not the only role we play, and its not the only thing social tools should focus on". People want more granularity not less.
But with complexity comes possibility. It is surely only a matter of time before social graphs become not only more layered and 3 dimensional, but far more portable. The greater the granularity, the greater the potential. It's the difference between a band and an orchestra. In this scenario the value differential will get wider, between messaging that is based on assumption and that which is based on knowledge. Between permission based services that use profile, behavioural, geographical, and social information to recommend, suggest, support, and the rest. Or, to put it another way, between that which creates value and that which subtracts value.
This is a wholesale change from where we are now. And one thing is for sure – we're not going to get there if we think we are entitled to it. Entitlement is the enemy of innovation. As Seth says: "Ask not what the market can do for you, but what you can do for the market." Perhaps the one question that everyone should be asking themselves is this: what problem are you solving?