The sheer volume of information we contend with on a daily basis (swim in might be a better way to put it), global economics, mass-media, populist politics and almost pandemic distraction--is indeed a whole separate universe--a "consumer verse" composed of new appetites, thoughts, movements and spectacle. This is not a sustainable or even remotely graspable for current information systems, and yet it is generated by a far greater super computer--the human brain that created all of it. Yet, we do not seem as bright as the things we create, do we? There is a disconnect with all this "connectedness".
When neuroscientists record the brainwaves of a person passively surfing the internet they note that after about half an hour, the brain decides that nothing is actually happening, and it goes into what is known as a hypnoidal twilight state. In other words about your 1/2 of your brain goes into night-night.
90% of us are “lurkers” – We read, consume and observe.
9% of us are intermittently producing some sort of content, We engage, comment or share content we "like".
1% of us actually create content.
So, what is this amorphous, mind-dulling mass of mediated reality that we are half-sleeping in created by a tiny all too familiar fraction of us ?
Those who create and fill the "consumer verse" we now live in are not stupid. That would be me, and people like me (or former me), technologists, and media strategists and consumer insight people and marketers. I would submit to you that "we" are indeed more powerful then you might imagine and are using vast amounts of technology to get as much information from you as possible so we can propagate an alternative reality. The one we "experience" is getting pretty messy if you haven't noticed, so by very simple and brief extension--we are programming, building and engineering the prototypes for the world we are going to live in for the foreseeable future. The virtual world to replace living in the degraded one we now inhabit.
Social theorists and technologists alike talk about the coming emergence of a super intelligence and the "internet of things". That global network, once alluded to by the Yankee Group in Boston as a "behaviorally adaptive, personally curative and literally--uninterruptible network" is not long off. We ought to consider more seriously how coherently we plan to live in it and navigate never mind how to market to it.
The Advent of *Sapeo-Centric Society
One might not think that the current social media milieu indicates an emergent intelligence if you read the top 100 tweets or take a sampling of your friend's Facebook updates. You certainly wouldn’t ascribe the word “spiritual” or “intelligent” to the banality that tends to dominate both. However, the world that social media would seem to be the harbinger of does indeed have an intelligent core. I've coined a term for the ultra-wired world we are headed for-- the sapeo-centric society.
The root s apeo comes from the Latin worldSapiens means wisdom or knowledge. Sapeo-centrism refers to a way of being, of relating and interrelating that is highly intelligent--and also, by definition-elite.
The world of 2025 will be entirely sapeo-centric, and most if not all of our interrelations, with things and one another will involve one or many dimensions of machine-derived intelligence. Media technologies and experiences of the sapeo-centric society of 2025 will have the following traits in common.
Our experiences will be "glocal". The scope of interaction at any given node will be isolated to a very small core group or even just ourselves and could very well expand around the globe in nano-seconds.
Our experience will be i ndividually curated, (you will create your own consumer-verse).
Our experience will be b ehaviorally stimulating, (many of the ways we interact will be through sensors and the physical body).
To make this even simple, we will only interact with content that is specifically for us, hence everything will be curated. We won’t pull or browse, everything will come to us-ready made, formatted in such a way that we will want to interact with it. Content glut and clutter and media fragmentation will be gone. They will have built into them behavioral, physiological and psychological qualia.
Meaning that our bodies-the eyes with which we read, the fingers with which we type, and the skin with which we sense the world will be part of that curated experience. These experiences will be delivered and modified by on wearable devices and continuous and real-time in its experience.
The will also be predictive by nature. The machines will learn everything about us as we give them more and more data. Why? Because we will have been telling them what we like and how we like it for a very long time by then. By the way, just like Hong Kong, San Francisco and Berlin have unaffordable enclaves of the elites that create the digital world we live in, the sapeo- centric society isn’t for everyone- it’s for who can afford to live in it.
The entire marketing field is now tracking towards building this society by getting involved with the kinds of things not normally associated with it--like data management, geo-spatial technology, semiotics, anthropology, machine learning, social listening...I could list another fifty other things that have somehow crept into the marketer's domain. Why have they crept there? To create the consumer verse, the sap-centric society of the future.
If you think about the incessant buzz of your refrigerator for a moment, consider the faint din and omnipresent hum of the internet of things. It's getting louder, and it might not be as cool as we think.
For consulting, speaking engagements and workshops you can reach directly at louisd@bigthinkercom.
My revised book "What is Social? Essays on the HyperMarket" is due out in January.