The early stages of the digital revolution were led by programmers and computer scientists. One of the most important outcomes of the last years was replacing the need for privacy with the need for visibility. While this exchange has many benefits, it doesn't help people to develop original thoughts.
I'm not handwringing or whining about this outcome, but I believe we've gone too far. The visibility and connectivity bubble is about to deflate and we're about to enter the age of digital enlightenment. Programmers and computer scientists will continue to be an important force in the digital revolution; leadership will come from thinkers, intellectuals, artists and storytellers. These people are driven by an emerging vision that's much more individualistic, centered around humanity, intimacy and, yes, feelings instead of connecting the world into a data-driven monster.
Sharing has Become a Robot-like Behavior
More and more people retweet links without even reading them. Check-ins on Foursquare have become bot-like behavior, Facebook should change its brand color to pink: it's a unicorn world. Meaningful conversations are uncommon on any of our favorite platforms. The whole idea of conversations has turned into a huge echo chamber, filled with people backslapping each other: You think like us and you'll be part of us.
The Web will gain in importance over time: Our kids will live on it, learn from it, get most of their information from it. I'm not interested to see our future grow up in a virtual echo chamber where being more equal than anybody else is being rewarded.
The Mindful Web
There's a reason why people need to take a sabbatical from the web. It's exhausting to exist in the echo chamber, being reactive and celebratory. Once in a while we need to take some time to think.
Who said it has to be that way? Shouldn't we design technology that makes us much smarter, supports constructive dialogue, filled with quality content and intimacy? Less immediate gratification, more different points of views.
We see the beginnings of this new age: Brainpickings, Cowbird, Twenty@. We'll see if any of these will pan out but as long as we're trending towards a more balanced digital world, we're going to continue to see brighter lights. A digital world that teaches us, just like we learned to respond. And marketers, as the Zeitgeist amplifiers, will play their part by intensifying the new habits and behaviors.
Uwe Hook is the CEO and Co-Founder of BatesHook, Inc. (www.bateshook.com) and a veteran of the advertising and marketing industry with the goal of building connections between people and brands. Uwe can be reached at email@example.com.
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