Dear Internet Superheros (from left: Gary Vaynerchuk, Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, Jason Calacanis, Leo Laporte, and Ashton Kutcher),
My name is Jeremy Person and like Gary Vaynerchuk (you are awesome) I have a last name which gets slaughtered (it is Person like a human). OK now that we have that out of the way I wanted to let you know that I’ve been watching you. No, not in a weird way, but rather in a heroic, idolizing sort of way. I’m a fan of yours but why I’m a fan might surprise you. I’m a fan because I love your passion, your knowledge, your ideas, your love to share knowledge and ideas, your passion to help, and your love to connect with others. I too share many of your same passions and want to thank you for all that you have done to share your ideas with the world.
Let me first say I love what you have been able to do in the technology space over the years and I appreciate everything you have done for us. I can’t speak for the rest of the world but I can speak for myself. I think the world needs Internet Superheros who will stand up for our digital rights. For instance look at what Jason Calacanis is doing for individuals looking for Angel Investment money. Calacanis has been threatened with legal action and what does he say? He says bring it on, even if it means selling his Tesla to do it. That is guts and I love it.
Internet Superheroes we’ve failed you because we aren’t asking you for help in the right areas in life. At the end of your life are you going to be more proud of making money with a company, or knowing that you helped change the world with your company or service? More than likely you’ll be more proud of the fact that you helped change the world. We need Internet Superheros who will support and promote open source. We need a radical shift in the way the world thinks and operates. The world is in such desperate need for help we need a Legion of Superheros to join forces because as great as you are, you aren’t powerful enough to fight proprietary companies and old school ways of digital thinking on your own. I could get into what powers you each posses but the key message is put together, you would be a force to be reckoned with. Yeah I guess I think about some really strange things don’t I?
I love social networks as much as the next person but what I don’t love is how we don’t own our own data. Facebook is 350 million users strong and has become a giant in the social media space. Open source has grown in popularity over the last 5 years and much of that is because of Firefox. However what many people don’t know is there are many other open source applications which are more secure, provide better performance, and offer much more functionality/extensibility.
Much of what makes open source great is also part of its downfall which is it doesn’t have a marketing machine behind it mostly because it isn’t nearly as profitable as proprietary software. For instance you aren’t going to see any Firefox commercials any time soon asking Internet Explorer users to make a switch to Firefox. The reason I’m telling you this is because I think this is where Internet Superheroes such as yourself come in. Since open source is largely a grassroots effort we need help from people with a large following to help show the world that open source is not only an option but in many instances, a superior option. Anything you can do to spread the word about open source software and services would be greatly appreciated. I know what you are thinking, I’m not an open source guy, I’m a “insert something here” guy. That is fine but look at what George Foreman was able to do with a grill right? Look at what Bono was able to do with his humanitarian efforts. As someone once told me “can’t never could until it tried”.
As you know, open source software comes in many forms. With the move from the client to the cloud, so do our applications and the most popular of those are social networks. As we ask our friends and relatives to join us on these social networks we are essentially asking them to give their experiences, digital assets, and knowledge to companies that don’t let us export our data from one platform to the next. Whether we are talking about YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, MySpace, Digg (still love you Kevin), Mahalo (Calacanis, still love you too and you are paying some contributors…yes I know) etc you are giving your content and time away to others and in many instances for free. It makes me think of the way the pyramids were built but instead of forced slavery it is voluntary which boggles my mind.
To me Facebook is like 350 million humans going to GM and saying I want my family, friends and relatives to ride in your car. Your car is going to allow us to see and share things but everything we take from those experiences has to stay in that car. When we grow tired of your car we won’t be able to transfer the things that we have taken from our experiences over the years, instead we will have to leave them in the car and with your company. Worse, if the company folds, so do all of our assets.
We love social networks don’t we? They are the modern day equivalent of a bar or a party and what I mean by that is we go there to meet and connect with people. I’m a blogger so I rely on many social networks to help drive traffic to my website so I can connect, learn from, and tell others what I am thinking. Essentially our social media platforms are like modern day parties. You meet people at the party and if you find them interesting you might exchange information to get to know one another better. We rely on these huge social networks to drive traffic to our sites. So us normal “folk” go to parties and we may meet people but we are in awe of you as you have most of the mind-share right?
With that said, search engines are modern day celebrities who we invite to our parties. Think about this, if you are a club owner and you get Paris Hilton to visit your club, I can guarantee you it will drive traffic and hype to your “site” in huge ways right? Well Google, Yahoo, and Bing are modern day celebrities with Google being the Paris Hilton of them all. We need open source search but nobody has done it yet. Relying on these companies is ultimately going to hurt us in the end as we rely on them for our traffic which doesn’t feel right to me. We are sick of Hollywood celebrities aren’t we? We say nasty things about them but the ironic thing is they have some strange spell over us. That strange spell is over millions and millions of people in the world and we need your help to stop it. We need an Internet celebrity to help us promote open web standards, open data standards, and give us freedom from our information jail cells.
Here is what we need from you:
- Develop open social media platforms (for example BuddyPress instead of Facebook, WordPress instead of Blogger)
- Let us export our data (not many platforms are doing that)
- Promote open source software and services (besides the Linux crowd we don’t have an advocate)
Help us Internet Superheroes because as Princess Leia said in Star Wars: you’re our only hope. Oh and if you are a superhero or if you know of a superhero, send them this request.