There are more than 1 billion people online - all connected, creating, communicating and looking for information. It is the biggest market the world has ever known, and it has spawned the most targeted and measurable form of advertising we've ever seen.

Digital networks have rewritten the rules of production and distribution of content. For the first time, the mass exchange of text, audio and video across time and geography is possible; anyone can publish comments through a blog, record songs for an online community of fans or share videos with users worldwide — all at minimal cost and with almost no external help.

What's more, the people using these services view themselves not as passive recipients of content but as active participants in the creative process. Trying either to control user preferences or to curtail their choices is doomed to failure.

Get the full story at the Los Angeles Times