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Disintermediate – What the “Web” Was Created For

June 26, 2009

Yesterday, Mitch Joel’s blog featured a video from Clay Shirky speaking at the TED conference on the phenomena of social media being used by everyday citizens for political purposes – often scooping or even eliminating the need for the media. Shirky cites recent efforts by social media users to validate results in countries experiencing voting conflict.

Our CEO, Jay Berkowitz, recently did a presentation which included this topic – refering to it as the opportunity to”disintermediate” – or cut out the middle man. Jay cites current online services that disintermediate, including companies using Twitter for customer service, and websites like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) which connects reporters with sources.

The process to disintermediate was a keystone of the overall design of the internet when the “www” was first formed. And the ability to do it via social media has been around since the beginning, too (consider forums, chat rooms, etc).

Today’s social media interfaces provide a rich/multi-media approach to the same opportunity. It has taken the kind of widespread adoption of these tools prevalent today for this to become noticed by the world. With these mainstream tools that have unlimited global reach, small voices can now get the attention they desire.

The “middle man” better be looking behind him. He’s rapidly becoming obsolete.