|New Strategy for Enterprise Competitiveness
Christopher S. RollysonStrategy | Marketing | Innovation | Knowledge | Technology
Prologue from November 2000, the height of Web 1.0 - Also see May 1998
I hope that you enjoy the relaunch of the site, which came into existence in May 1998, well over a decade ago in Internet time. Since then, I have been involved with many facets of "envisioning and implementing the Internet": from helping to launch fledgling startups to guiding "global enterprises" in figuring out how to use the Internet to either enhance their businesses (or to keep the shirts on their backs ;-).
Through these journeys, one of the recurring themes is what a technologist might call "integration" and what a famous historian called the synthesis of "dialectical materialism": the old "thesis" is confronted by the "antithesis" (here the "Internet/e-business/e-commerce") and must produce a new synthesis. Although Marx clearly missed the boat in terms of what the synthesis would be, his description of the process, of the forces and stakes, of the old and new, of the uncertainty, and of the violence of the confrontation was right on mark. As a student of history, I have developed the habit of looking for historical perspective because we humans have lived on a perceived continuum, and many of the most profound answers come from reflecting on our existence from within that context.
From the economic point of view, of course, what everyone wants to know is how they can profit from the change, and there the devil is in the details. As learning creatures, we have been constantly rewarded for remembering things, so we don't have to "reinvent the wheel" (consultants call remembering things "leveraging assets"). However, in instances like this, the fascinating and frustrating thing is that we have to selectively forget some of the things that worked before. This situation also engenders intense questioning and an inquiry into the essence of things. The stakes are huge: throughout our history, those who figured out the new rules first profited the most, and laggards barely saw a change at first. But let's not forget that many early adopters perished throughout our history because they missed the adoption curve and literally fell into the chasm (think of Romans and slaves experimenting with aqueduct construction).
This site is about this dialectic, journey and questioning. It may well contain some answers, depending on the questions and what you're seeking. From the artistic point of view, you will see the elements (earth, water, air and fire), for I perceive that they speak to our essence and, through it, provide space. These windows into elemental space remind me that life has deeper meaning than the make-or-break issue or question that's immediately at hand. In this way, I hope that they serve to give you some space for reflection as well. Last but certainly not least, the Gallery of Muses is a beta site that I'm very excited about. It goes even more in a philosophical direction than does the main site: as beings whose interest can go beyond economics, we can ponder on what, in the context of our history and our essence, electronic communication signifies for us. It will grow significantly in the coming weeks, and contributions will come from numerous leading thinkers.
All the best in your journey, Chris Rollyson