Grant McCracken wrote an interesting post about the economic, social and cultural consequences of the new Internet.
He lists four models, the first two are already widely discussed, the other two require some more thinking and even imagination about how the new social and cultural consequences could affect everyday life.
Model one: disintermediation
This one is pretty clear. The web reduces the friction we experienced through intermediaries. People or organisations whose only raison d’etre was the fact that they had better information or contacts than the average Joe. And Joe would pay lots of money to access that information or those contacts.
The web puts an end to most assymetric information. And hence it also reduces demand for many of these intermediaries.
Model two: long tail
This term nowadays belongs to Chris Anderson, who writes a blog about this topic, but is also writing a book on it. (The blog is actually a „diary“ of him writing the book.)
The long tail means: there is demand for everything. Might be small, but it exists. In his Audio Interview with the Economist, Chris tells us how he came to think about the fact that aside from the obvious „hits“ in each product or service category, there is an abundance of individual demand for any other thing possibly on offer. Because with perfect knowledge of what’s out there, someone will always find out what you have to offer. And the web now offers this 20:20 vision of the supply curve.
Model three: reformation
This is a little more tricky. Grant is an anthropologist, hence his enthusiasm:
It became clear eventually that these people were reforming personhood and the self. The self was not merely better connected, but now more porous, more distributed, more cloud like. This cultural fundamental, the definition of what and who a person is, was changing. [..] The reformation model says fundamental categories of our culture (particularly the self and the group and the terms with which we think about them) are changing.
Model four: continuous presense (everything and everyone all the time)
We will have more ways to connect to people, than we will want to have at any point in time.
our economic, social and cultural destination might be this: we will be continuously connected to all knowledge and all people with a minimum of friction, and priviledge will be measured, in part, by how good are the filters with which we make contact with all but only the people and knowledge we care about
The mobile phone already makes us present at all times: if you don’t pick up the phone or don’t answer SMS within a certain time period, people will start to wonder. The messenger services add to this, people can always see when your online. Recently I don’t always show up as „online“ in the messengers I use (I use almost all of them, because my contacts/buddies are scattered across all major brands). I just don’t want people to know how much time I spend in front of the computer 😉 – no, in reality, I don’t want them to think I am ready to answer their questions/requests, etc any time, just because „I am online“. Being online doesn’t necessarily mean I am in the mood for a conversation.