The 'Blue Dress' and the incredible scalability of content

It demonstrates the 1st Law of New Media... content scales much faster than servers and software.

Sutro Tower
Tom Foremski

The recent massive viral distribution of "The Dress" story through Buzzfeed, and many other popular news sites, created a media tsunami. It's a good opportunity to look at a key attribute of a media business.

Silicon Valley investors love the scalability of a software-based startup. If business takes-off you add more servers and run more software.

There's far less need to add people, which is good because a people-dependent business doesn't scale through technology, e.g., public relations.

The traditional media industry is a people-based business and it usually requires additional people to produce additional media. It's not scalable in the same way as a software-based business, by adding more machines.

However, there is a very important distinction about a media business that is often missed: Content is near infinitely scalable on the Internet. The Internet was built to scale content in seconds.

Other people's servers will gladly carry your viral content to wherever the Internet ends -- for free!

With one story you can potentially imprint the entire Internet! Try matching that performance with a servers and software business, for example, offering a web service.

Back in 2006 I cheekily dubbed this effect: Foremski's First Law of New Media -- Content is infinitely scalable.

I'll tell you the Second Law in a future post!

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