The fundamental issue here is one of Tools vs. Platforms.
Nearly everything you’re accustomed to using online—social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, website generators like WordPress, etc.—is a platform.
On one hand, platforms appear to provide us with easy benefits and a lot of leverage. For example, you can sign up for Twitter right now, and within minutes, you can communicate with anyone else on Earth who is also on that platform.
But here’s the thing…
Almost nobody talks about the cost of relying on those platforms.
The insidious truth is that the longer you use a platform, the more entrenched you become.
In other words, if a situation ever arises in the future where you need to move to a different platform, your ability to do so will be diminished, and the cost of moving will be much, much greater!
So what’s the difference between tools and platforms?
The simplest definition is that tools do one thing, whereas platforms do many things.
Because they are more limited in scope, tools will always carry a much lower cost than platforms.
It’s relatively easy to switch tools because you can just swap one out for another as needed.
You can’t do this with platforms, though. There are simply too many entanglements, dependencies, and artifacts that arise as a result of prolonged use of a particular platform.
(For example, it could take months to move a huge site from WordPress to another platform like Drupal.)
Heavy reliance on platforms is the digital equivalent of “painting yourself into a corner.”
It’s time for a mindset shift
Over the last decade, we’ve seen the rise—and even the domination—of bigtime digital platforms. And during that time, we’ve grown accustomed to thinking in terms of platforms and how we use them.
The point I want to make today is this:
It’s time to acknowledge the problems endemic to our reliance on these platforms.
It’s also time to start looking in a direction that gives us more freedom and flexibility in the future.
This is where tools can help us tremendously, and this is why we need a mindset shift to start thinking in terms of tools, not platforms.