Category Archives: Resources

I’ll Take That Message Medium, Please

When the author, Marshall McLuhan wrote the phrase “The medium is the message” he was articulating the powerful interrelationships that exist between the two. It’s a good illustration of the Yin-Yang symbiosis across our world. The Gutenberg Bible broke the constraints of the intellectual slavery the early church imposed on members who could have no access, redefining the nature of the message and its impact by creating an accessible medium. The medium and message play critical roles in world changing history. In 490 BC, during the first Greco-Persian Wars, a runner (the medium) ran from Marathon to Athens to warn the fellow Greeks that they had won the battle and to resist the Persian fleet (we might be speaking Farsi today if he had failed). In 1862 a package containing Gen Robert E. Lee’s orders to his generals was discovered in a field by a Union soldier, something that would have likely reshaped the direction of the war (with perhaps two governments incapable of managing their spending).

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Going to Pieces

It’s hard to miss the changes in the media world, specifically, the demise of the Blockbuster empire. Netflix has a business model that is a game changer, a Blockbuster buster, as iTunes changed the way we access music and other entertainment, a CD and DVD killer. The world of content will soon be without the burdens of physical media. I’m fascinated by the Blockbuster busting by a competitor, one implementing the very strategy that made Blockbuster king of the block. Blockbuster was the brainchild of Wayne Huizenga, an entrepreneur recognized for this value creation strategies. Huizenga’s strategy was to take businesses that were very fragmented in the marketplace and integrate them, creating customer value. He did the same in the world of waste management. Interestingly, Netflix saw the Blockbuster blindness to its current fragmentation and jumped in.

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Roads, Forks, and Prongs

The term robber baron is said to have originated as a medieval name attributed to those that controlled passage on the Rhine River and charged exorbitant tolls. They recognized the power they held, as constrainers or enablers of commerce. The term lived on and thereafter was attached in 19th century America to the magnates that built and operated the railroads. Their power, the same as their predecessors, came as they became the harvesters of the power that came to gatekeepers to commercial traffic. The big and exciting commercial wars in the mid to late 1800’s were about control of the rails. The magnates who built the rails, steamship lines, and the routes of commerce did much to shape the course of history and how we operate today. We may not recognize names like Gould, Crocker, Flagler (outside of Florida), Harriman or Vanderbilt, but their tribe of visionaries and shapers continues on.
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The Winter of Our Discontent

The yearly onset of winter has been a critical milestone in our history, life for that matter, on this planet. It triggered severe constraints in access to food, travel, safety and the quality of life overall. Travellers who needed to get across mountain ranges had to make tough choices, and often make winter quarters and postpone travel until the thaws. Even in war, some armies huddled in winter and fought from early spring to late fall. Today, winter continues to constrain and often reminds us that our advancement and technology can be humbled by severe weather. Those in the tropics see a different face of nature, the tropical cyclones and monsoons.

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My Way or the Highway

American Airlines war with the web is a fascinating series of events. Nobody can argue that the web is the neural and circulatory network for the preponderance of businesses. Unavailability and inaccessibility are likely to be two deathly symptoms of a commercial entity headed for life challenging times. Now, when I hear about accessibility issues, I tend to associate them with technical or network failures. Something broke, or glitches or evildoers are driving the calamity. Not so in this case. This war has to do with how accessibility is managed. American has made a decision that they will set the rules of how customers can access them.

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