Guest Blogging for Fast Company

Fast Company is one of the few magazines that I make a point to read each month. They also have an excellent blog under the watchful eye of Heath Row.

The Fast Company blog is celebrating its 2nd anniversary on Monday and Tuesday. They’re calling it “FC Now BlogJam 2005” and I have been invited to be a guest blogger. So I’ll be posting there instead of here for the next few days. I’ll post a link to each of my Fast Company posts here on the Shotgun Blog as well.

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Medieval Venture Capitalists

Here’s a little history lesson for you…

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1436, entrepreneurs rushed to find venture capitalists to fund massive libraries and bookstores to hold all those books.

  • Pets Library was dedicated to all those peasants with expendable income for their pets
  • Amazon Bookstore was set up to actually sell some of those books
  • L-toys bookstore tried reach children before they died of the plague
  • L-Trade Library attempted to help the nobles do their own investments
  • And a huge number of other libraries and bookstores popped up as well

Then a few years later, only a small number of those businesses still existed. It turns out that a large majority of the peasantry didn’t know how to read. The libraries and bookstores that did make were barely making a profit. All the analysts said that the initial push was a book “bubble”. After the bubble, many businesspeople no longer wanted to create a good book strategy for their businesses. They thought the whole “printed word” thing would pass and they’d be fine with bartering for pigs and goats. Eventually, the printing press became an obsolete relic of the past.

Of course, it didn’t happen that way. And it’s far-fetched fantasy to think that it did. But, I have clients all the time who have the opinion that they don’t need the internet.

The Internet will change the world as much or more than the printed word did….and it will do it faster.

Think about it. The printing press was invented in the mid 1400s. Bibles were the first mass product it created…but literacy and the ability to afford books for the masses didn’t really start until the late 1700s and early 1800s. That’s 300 to 400 years for the juicy middle part of the adoption curve.

It’s been 15 years since the Internet started to be used commercially. Where’s the “literacy” level (knowledge/ability to get online) and affordability (for both connectivity and ability to purchase) for the masses now?

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