Are We Contained & Controlled?

by Jay Deragon on 04/08/2008

Are We Contained & Controlled?We all have our “places” where we live, work and play. We also have other places where we socialize, worship and of course the common places where we shop. These “places” are comfortable to us because we’re familiar with the environment, the layout and the communities each place represents.

It is from these “places” we draw references to our world and we interact with people whom also influence our references in terms of who we are and what we represent. Now we have new “places” scatter throughout the social web in terms of communities, networks, groups and the list of places goes on and on. We are free to roam but are we and at what cost?

With more and more people spending time and energy in “places” on the internet many finally get to a point of deciding where their time is best spent in terms of “places”. Even when we decide where we will spend most of our time it still takes way too much time to accomplish simple task because we’re still experiencing “siloconstraints that try and contain and control us, our time, our money and our attention.

What is with the Mentality of Contain and Control?

Since the beginning of mankind people have risen to power with a philosophy of contain and control as the means for more power and for money. Government, institutions, businesses, media, families and individuals have struggled with the battle of “contain and control” for centuries. Wars have been fought, entire economic systems crushed and millions have sacrificed their lives over numerous battles for “contain and control” strategies.

Now the battle is aimed at who controls and contains our use of the internet. However, the masses, using the very means of the internet, are expressing the desire, the motivation and the will for “freedom” from control and containment. This battle represents a philosophical shift of epic proportions.

Philosophy is the discipline concerned with questions of how one should live (ethics); what sorts of things exist and what are their essential natures (metaphysics); what counts as genuine knowledge (epistemology); and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic).The word is of Ancient Greek origin, meaning love of wisdom. Our philosophy is represented by what we believe to be true.

Some people seek wisdom while most simply follow the wisdom of crowds. For businesses the overriding philosophy has been capture, contain, control and leverage the masses. It has been taught in our business schools for centuries and capital markets thrive on this belief system. The social web flies in the face of this wisdom with users wanting and learning to leverage “free” for self expression, connections to others. Learning the leverage of a networked world and last but not least how to obtain more collective power from “free”

The Irony of Free

The old beliefs system of control and contain was and still is motivated by power and money. The irony of this is that old “beliefs systems” are based on a philosophy of scarcity rather than abundance. The social web is clearly demonstrating how free can be used to establish new relations, new transactions and subsequently new markets. (The Cluetrain Manifesto). Blinded by old beliefs those that continue to try and contain and control will loose to those that leverage free for greater value for a larger market of people willing and wanting to participate in the new “philosophy”.

Wireless and landline network providers (Comcast, Verizon, AT&T etc.) are battling for market share by commoditizing their products and services into price wars. Few, if any, have demonstrated a change in beliefs which would be self evident if their strategies created abundant opportunities for their customers, suppliers and shareholders. Instead we’re witnessing a battle of “acquire and control” rather than create and facilitate. On the other end of the spectrum the users, some call them customers, are learning to create and facilitate relations, transactions and forming brand new markets of opportunity.

Which philosophy best fits your belief system? What say you?


Michael Pokocky April 8, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I wrote this a few years ago and it seems appropriate to add to the conversation:

The Real Deal On Virtual Communites:

Every “Virtual Community” founded on the net since the term was first
coined by the founder of The is either [ego-centric] or
[net-centric] in structure. My observation here is that most
communities are ego-centric and a few are net-centric.
This observation leads one to the question, “Well then, what is the
right model for networking on any level?” There is no universal answer
to that question, but there are many theories and best practices, each
laying claim to their [authenticity], [originality] and [uniqueness].
“Hey join me!” is the thump, thump cry and we do. Why? It’s human
nature. Everyone wants to either [belong] to something larger than
themselves or be [persuaded] to join a group because they [like] to be
sold something; it’s already part of our universal cultural
[conditioning]; and [branding] is the critical task for marketers to
capture our [attention].
The [upside] to the proliferation of “virtual communities” is that by
participating in the [game] someone is going to find the right model
and I think it will come sooner than later.
The [downside] is that “virtual communities” all buy into their own,
and excuse the phrase, but it’s appropriate for dramatic
Don’t take my word for it; do your own research. I have; and that is
good advice because only [you] know what’s [good] for [you].

Michael Pokocky April 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm

What everyone should be reading is:

World of Ends
World of Ends. What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else. by Doc Searls and David Weinberger. Last update: 3.10.03 ..

and as it relates to this article where you say,” Now the battle is aimed at who controls and contains our use of the internet,” they say in point (8):

The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it

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