Branded versus owned

I just got an email from a friend via Google’s “sharing button.” (I don’t know what
the sharing button is – sounds like Web 2.0-speak for “email this page to…”).

Anyway, I reminded him that I can’t do google, and he said well then you can just
watch the video on YouTube; oh no you can’t, because they’re owned by Google.

I had forgotten about all that. I’m not an avid YouTube user, but I am sure I have
been there several times in the past twenty days of my little experiment (which, I am beginning to suspect, is some sort of high-tech self-destructive means for myself to annoy myself.  but anyway).

So apart from the fact that I have cheated again, the high-falutin issue here is whether I had intended my March to be away from Google or from “Google.”
The point is that Google exists in many forms and by many names.  I have seen some discussion lately on Google as imperialist; and while I see why someone might make that connection, the “imperialist” concept is far too militaristic to capture what is going on here–even though the realm of geopolitics does perhaps hold some important parallel concepts.  Perhaps Joe Nye’s notion of “soft power” is a better way for thinking about this.  Or other notions of cultural imperialism (although, again, the imperialist metaphor is too direct and aggressive for what is reallly going on here).

More to the point is the fact that Google has positively aced the (hypothetical) exam where students need to demonstrate that they have understood the concept of network externalities.  The bigger your network, the more valuable it is.  In some cases branding is key; in other cases (as in YouTube) branding is beside the point. Or one brand (Google) can emerge as the overseer of a hierarchy of brands–not unlike what Sex and the City is doing.


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One Response to “Branded versus owned”

  1. Siva Vaidhyanathan Says:

    This is going great. Thanks for sharing so much.

    More than half way home!


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