Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Peer-to-peer validation

Longstanding readers of this humble bloglet will recall that one aspect of industry disruption I have addressed from time to time is that of my own industry. Namely, the fact that a loosely federated open source research and opinion-shaping network seems to be taking shape - one which largely excludes the brokers. The well-informed fund manager, armed with an RSS newsreader and a list of highly recommended feeds, can do a helluva lot for himself, thank you very much. Take a heaping tablespoon of Telepocalypse, add two pinches of Richard Stastny, a smidgen of Tom Evslin, stir in healthy portions of the Ominator and Telcotrash, season (to taste), add water, stir, and presto. More adventurous palettes may like to sprinkle in some P2P, gaming, or a tasty melange of art and technology.

I have, for a long time, had deep forebodings about the long-term implications of this for the brokers' research efforts. When your client base is sufficiently well-armed to say "Duh!" to your output on a daily basis, you have a problem. I have made my own efforts to reconcile the tension between writing "straight" research and the need to do something different, and it has had a profoundly positive effect on my access to information and created an entirely new network of valued industry contacts. This, in turn, has enriched the "straight" research. Together, they are larger than the sum of the parts. However, I have never been naive about the brokers' longer term ability/willingness to also harness some of the same approach for their own ends. There will remain the usual tensions between compliance issues, corporate politeness and proprietary vs. open information/discussion, which may ultimately undermine the effort.

Nevertheless, it's still early days and the momentum seems to be building. Recently some Platinum Club mega-value readers have alerted me to two examples, one personal blog from Tim Poulus of Rabobank, and a more recent and highly intriguing bank-authorized blog from Rod Hall (also an American ex-pat VoIP quasi-obsessive) of DRKW in London. He kindly cites me as an inspiration, which is both gratifying and also unexpected in an industry where we typically try to publicly blank our competition. This is a fascinating time to be alive.

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