Tag Archives: Phil Simon

“Platform ‘Language Games’ ” – A working paper on how we understand “platforms”

My focus on “platform” phenomena in business and other domains has led me to wonder about how we (as people trying to comprehend the world in late 2011) use and understand the term and concept “platform” .  That is how I came to work on this write-up, (link to PDF)  “Platform ‘Language Games:’ Is Clearly Defining and Classifying What We Are Studying A Serious Or Trivial Pursuit For The Research Community?

“Platform” is a term that has appeared — ever more frequently over the past 25 years or so — in literature and discourse within economics and management science research, business management, scientific, and government circles, technology marketing, and business, scientific, and popular press and media.  “Platforms” are much discussed, today, in errantly-released internal Google emails, in a recent informative business book of Phil Simon (proclaiming that we have entered The Age of the Platform).  “Platforms” are being discussed in conference rooms by managers, investors, and entrepreneurs as well as written about and talked about in the trade and popular press and social media. 

“Platforms” have been and continue to be analyzed and discussed by economic and management science researchers, who are responsible for our achieving a scientific understanding and knowledge of “platforms,” even as the term/concept “platform” proliferates and evolves and various “platforms” (communication, publishing, social media) lead to an intermingling of discourse in the research community, the professional community (e.g. business practitioners, et al), and the general public. 

So while my write-up is addressed to the research community, it may also be of interest to others in business and other disciplines (though I am doubtful that it will be looked at, to say nothing of read through, by many in even these communities).  While I realize few will find it of any interest, I am hopeful that it may be helpful to some in thinking about how we understand “platforms” in late 2011.

I start my write-up, tongue-in-cheek, with the paradoxical quote by Wittgenstein, “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen” (“Of that which one cannot speak, one must remain silent”).  There seems to be no shortage of those who will speak about “platforms” within different contexts, and we are speaking about “platforms” in different ways. 

Has our speaking about this captivating phenomenon/idea outrun our clear understanding? If so,  I’m not sure if this gap is of interest or considered to have any importance to anyone besides me.  In any case, my write-up is available to be read and reviewed, and I welcome all comments and suggestions.

Link to PDF: Platform “Language Games”