The Central Park of the web

Evan Williams says that the web is about money now, not creativity. He says this follows the pattern of previous technologies. At first there’s a wonderful burst of creativity and then it’s locked down by a few big companies. The fun is over. Now it’s about money.

I guess that’s what you see from his perspective. And from Facebook, Apple and Google, and maybe Oracle and Salesforce, and a few others.

But there are technologies that went a different way.

My favorite example is Manhattan’s relationship to Central Park.

The apartment buildings around the park are the money, and the creativity is in the park. The buildings are exclusive, the most expensive real estate in the world. The park is open to anyone, rich or poor, from anywhere in the world. The park is the engine of renewal. It’s where the new stuff comes from. The buildings are where the money is parked. In the interview Williams did with the Atlantic, in NYC, they looked into the park from a nearby hotel. That’s one valid perspective of course. Or you could go for a walk and see what’s happening inside the park.

You can see a great concert at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall, but there’s great music in the park too. It’s different. But it’s good music. And the price is right. ;-)

And btw, Amazon is making the opposite bet from Evan’s. They offer cheap servers for everyone. I think that’s the right bet. But that’s my point of view.

Twitter, when they put limits on the use of the API, decided to be an apartment building. A great one for sure. And it makes a lot of money. But there are severe limits on the creativity that comes out of the building. They might have made even more money if they chose to be the Central Park of the web.