The Culture of Participation

More on the idea of consumer participation … updating these posts on mass customization businesses like Zazzle post of late:

Digital technology is providing people with the tools to produce and share content like never before, and it is set to throw the relationship between them and institutions into turmoil

This will without doubt offer fat chances for innovative middlemen aka intermediaries, like editors/scouts/etc. who scan this huge amount of content … and yes, new business models may emerge …

The basic premise of the culture of participation is that any content that can be created digitally can be shared with the world. And, consequently, any digital content can be turned into a product and sold on the Web. That’s the fundamental insight of a startup called Zazzle, which has been quietly building a business over the past two years by allowing anyone to upload digital images to its website and print them on T-shirts, posters, and greeting cards.
Zazzle is more than just a do-it-yourself site. Many people choose to make their photos or artwork available to anyone who visits. Zazzle has thousands of branded images on the site, but hundreds of thousands more are contributed by individuals. Members generally receive a 10 percent royalty every time one of their images is used for a T-shirt or poster Zazzle sells.

Notice that the majority of Zazzles sales come from the customer-generated images.

Zazzle takes the idea of consumer participation (and mass customization) to a new level. Not only is there an almost infinite variety of product combinations that consumers can create on the site, but if they don’t find what they like, they can add their own digital creations to the mix.

and, well, looking into the future …

Someday the culture of participation will enable not only personalized stamps but personalized fabrication of things like electronics, automobiles, and furniture. Somebody just has to figure out how to bring computer-aided design software to the masses.

Not such a crazy thing to start with, remember Gershenfelds personal fabrication in home fab labs

read more at Business 2.0

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