Filtered for networks

13.07, Wednesday 4 Feb 2015


This Ben Evans piece, The home and the mobile supply chain, points out that gadgets are easier to create now that there is a flood of small, battery-powered components coming out of the smartphone factories in China.

The smartphone boom is creating a flood of small, cheap, low power and yet very sophisticated components that would not have existed otherwise, or would have been much more expensive. The PC supply chain ultimately thought about components for $500-1000 boxes to go on your desk - the smartphone supply chain thinks about much smaller boxes that average $200 and go down to $30 or $40 and run on batteries. So you get smaller, cheaper, low power components, and you get all sorts of new types of sensors that a PC could never have used. These components are enabling everything from drones to wearables to connected home devices, ‘internet of things’, smart TVs and connected cars. And satellites.

So all those connected product startups on Kickstarter? Possible because they’re standing on the shoulders of Apple and Samsung.


Square is the mobile payment system targeted at small offline businesses like cabs, food carts, and boutiques. Last month it passed $100MM daily revenue, also noting that this kind of sales volume ranks it as the 13th largest U.S. retailer by annual sales.

Small businesses are where it’s at.

I remember reading that the rise in Super Bowl ad prices is - weirdly - because TV advertising overall is getting less effective. So there’s a flight by adverting dollars towards the places that still work.

Hypothesis: The internet allows businesses to be smaller, and to operate in networks instead of growing the workforce. During this transition, some big companies drop away, and the biggest see less competition, so they’ll get bigger still.


At Sprint 15, @timoreilly stated the mantra of an organisation operating in a networked world: No undifferentiated heavy lifting.

i.e. if you can’t add anything special by building your warehouse, use someone else’s.

Tim was discussing Amazon’s shift to becoming the operating system for web companies.

First CEO Jeff Bezos broke the company up into parts that worked together in standard and documented ways. The memo that Bezos sent lays that out:

All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed […]

And once the cells were defined, the skin of the company was shed and it became permeable to all the other businesses of the internet. The same protocol internal teams used to work together was made open to the world.


There’s a 2006 book by Alex Galloway, Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization.

Here’s a summary.

Here’s a review.

Ostensibly a critical analysis of the internet and how it became to be, actually:

In a networked world - where an organisation has no “head” but might be an ecosystem with values and habits (e.g. Silicon Valley; e.g. the smartphone supply chain) - where is control and governance?

Protocol is the substrate on which we build a self-healing network of material, money, and ideas. Law is friction: It is seen as damage and routed around.

But protocol is hidden control.

What polis are we building because of the preferences encoded in HTTP?

How do you measure the size - the value - of a network, and compare that against the large single nodes?

More posts tagged: