Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Simplistic and misleading
on December 23, 2013
I bought the Starfish and Spider book and thought it was superficial and just plain wrong in many cases. A lot of their examples were based on the infrastructure of the internet.
One "starfish" model was the kids who stole music via Napster, and the fact that when Napster shut down other "sharing" platforms popped up in its place. Well, I guess stealing is a "starfish" model and does continue to pop up without a head, but even the specific music-stealing activity the author describes couldn't happen without the sharing software.
Another story was about Craig's List and how people began connecting one-on-one, to the detriment of the classified ad industry. That's true, but actually Craig's List is a "spider." Craig built it and he owns it. The fact that he is not greedy is great, but it doesn't negate the fact that there is leadership and structure to the enterprise.
Another story was about how French businessmen naively asked some early Internet entrepeneur, "Who is the President of the Internet?" Ha Ha. Stupid French people.
But actually the French understood better than the authors. Someone built the Internet and someone manages the network. Wikipedia explains, "The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was one of the world's first operational packet switching networks, the first network to implement TCP/IP, and the progenitor of what was to become the global Internet. The network was initially funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later DARPA) within the U.S. Department of Defense for use by its projects at universities and research laboratories in the US." Later they spun it off to IICAN, who sets the rules and assigns the domain names, etc.
So there IS a President of the Internet, but behind the scenes. Without ARPA and IICAN, there is no internet.
It is interesting to think through how movements form and grow, but this book is primarily talking about the users of a system and doesn't acknowledge the importance of leadership and infrastructure to sustain ongoing organizations.