Viral Tech Report 1.2
The Chrysalis Times We’re In (part one)
The Idea Engineer Exchange conference (iEx 2012) took place last week in the stunning IAC building, designed by Frank Gehry, on far West 18th in NYC. Hotshot digital agency SapientNitro bookended its advanced marketing “storyscaping” show-and-tell with well-known thought leaders Clay Shirky and Malcolm Gladwell, and the thoughtful, funny and inspiring Joey Reiman. Ideas from these guys (all guys, yes) flowed as fast as the traffic on the West Side Highway outside, but gave lift to the proceedings in the same way as the sublime High Line one block to east gives life to us all.
Technology changes culture. Shirky explained, like this:
In the old days, the consumers of recorded music were defined by the audiophiles, who invested in and prided themselves on the quality of the sound system they could afford. Music production standards rose, consumers bought CDs of LPs. Digital files were very large, and belonged to the professional, not the consumer.
Technology change: Enter Mp3. This highly compressed, ‘lossy’ audio was deemed (by the music industry) to be ‘unsuitable’ for the consumer, on the basis of audiophile quality. Then enter Napster. Small file sizes that sounded ‘good enough’ – that were easily shared – were embraced by the user.
Cultural change: sharing music expanded far beyond what had ever been possible in audiophile living rooms. This cultural change has affected everything. Because social networks are simultaneously a massive response to the ‘center’ (the creators of ‘quality’ content, be it entertainment or news) by the ‘edge’ (the sharers, commenters and creators who used to be known as consumers), the cultural mindset has changed.
Today, we value the network: decentralized, connected, horizontal, based on collaboration.
Yesterday we valued the hierarchy: centralized, stratified, top-down, and based on deference to authority. As ever, we can look to millennials for instruction in this new mind set.
In the next post, a recap of Malcolm Gladwell’s take on this “generational paradigm shift.”