Even though we’re less than two decades into public use of the internet, there is plenty of evidence that we’re still in the very early stages of what’s possible. As Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker points out on TechCrunch, we’re only in Spring Training when it comes to the “re-imagination of nearly everything.” Her examples are excellent, from 125 years of land line telephones eclipsed by mobile phones in 2002 to Encyclopedia Britannica going out of print in 2012 after 244 years.
There are great examples of disruption all around us. We’re living in a very fast-changing world led primarily by the rapid connection of the entire planet through the Internet. This wave is taking us:
- From diaries hidden from prying eyes to public timelines on Facebook
- From scrapbooks to Pinterest and from flea markets to Ebay
- From books and magazines controlled by publishers to blogs by anyone and everyone (like yours truly)
- From professional sports commentators to anyone-as-contributor
- From coupons to pull customers to personalization to push information to buyers
- From sifting through what you know to figuring out what others know (Big Data)
The picture that’s being painted is one of remarkable re-imagination of nearly everything associated with how life is lived.
This disruption of nearly everything can be seen as a threat, and it is to many business and a number of people. It can also be a massive opportunity to those willing to be part of the re-imagining. Some of the change is driven by very visible, human activity and hands-on technology.
The rest is being figured out by very behind-the-scenes, hands-off machines as the inputs and outputs of algorithms…math formulas. Kevin Slavin does a great job explaining how algorithms are literally shaping a new world and becoming, “The Physics of Culture.”
How far can we take this re-imagination? As far as both people and machines can stretch and as quickly as can be tolerated by the marketplace. Keep in mind that there’s a generation behind us that is much more ready to accept wholesale change than those of us who grew up in a world fundamentally the same as that of our grandparents. For them, the acceleration will be even greater than what we’ve experienced. Exciting, scary, and inevitable.