Why are networks so powerful? Because networks control us. Networks control what we read, what opinions we’re exposed to, and the products we consume. To control the internet is to control humanity.
The invention of the internet was a turning point in the creation of two types of network — bureaucratic networks and non-bureaucratic networks. The bureaucratic networks that used to dominate control over our lives existed as newspapers, radio stations and television news networks, and supersaturated our information exposure. As the internet matured, the barrier to entry for being a “network creator” became lower, and not only did the existing bureaucratic networks migrate online, so did average people like you and me.
Personal blogs began to spring up and cultivate network followings to rival the likes of major bureaucratic news corporations, and we flocked to them because they were pure and unbiased (or openly biased) information sources. Then we saw major social networking websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit, (etc) which created some of the first massive non-bureaucratic networks. These sites were entirely populated by user-created content.
Following information, the barriers to entry for eCommerce keep falling, and we’re seeing a massive increase in the availability of online goods, services, and brands, and those companies are creating customer networks too. Everyone is creating a network, and everyone is creating content for their network, and everyone is trying to do it faster and better with more reach than the next.
“Walker-Smith says we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day today .” (via cbs news)
The problem is that we exist in a push paradigm for content and advertising. We currently participate in so many “networks” that are all pushing content 24/7 that we’re starting to hit the saturation point. Junk email is normal, mobile and web ads and banners are multi-billion dollar industries, and we’re all fighting for public mindshare.
Why is Snapchat exploding with the younger generation while Facebook is dying? Because today’s teenagers are already shifting towards a pull paradigm.
Snapchat doesn’t force a user to consume push content — a user can choose which information they wish to see, and can “pull” it on demand. They can choose to pull a story from the people they’re interested in that day, and they can do so without seeing any ads or pushed content. The entire snapchat platform exists as a pull paradigm, because it’s the ultimate way to curate information that’s relative to the user.
We’re barreling down the road towards supersaturation — you see premonitions of it in futuristic movies where people are so over-exposed to the shiny times-square like lights and messages that they seem to have lost their humanity.
It won’t get that bad, because the next wave of startups and commerce technologies will be focused on the pull-paradigm.
With chat bots and Ai, conversational commerce is definitely going to be one of the next “big things” and a natural evolution of conversational commerce will be voice commerce and voice payments. Right now, even the most technologically enabled payments companies aren’t equipped for voice payments, and they will need to be if they want to keep up with Amazon’s Echo and IBM’s Watson.
Voice payments will exist in the pull paradigm, because we will eventually be pulling and paying for content, goods, and services from trusted curation sources. Those curations may be bots, it may be advertising paywalls, it may be self-filtered sources, but we will see the emergence of an pervasive new consumer behavior for content as people and technology move further into the pull-paradigm.