#3101 Created 04/24/2012 Updated 10/27/2016
The dynamic web economy is a sea of constant change. Understanding the direction of change is a huge advantage in visualizing the future. This is a fact of life for internet-based business. It's an environment that promotes and thrives on that which is newest, brightest, and most spectacular.
And driving it all is the way in which modern consumers behave. Although well-equipped with the latest gadgets, consumers still behave in completely "normal" -- and broadly predictable -- ways. When consumer behavior shifts, it may usually be in response to changes in technologies, services, or fads, but it always in the direction that supports and enhances the consumers' fundamental behavior.
Change has a Slope.
The direction of change is measurable, but not always predictable. Regardless, the way that change affects business in the Internet Age sets important limits -- and opportunities.
We pay attention to three kinds of change: change that affects credibility and meaning of information; change that affects established institutions and patterns of commerce; and changes in consumer behavior driven by technological change, consumer tastes and fads.
We look at how changing conditions are expressed as binaries: as the age of consumer profiling rises, as an example, the age of personal privacy declines. Similarly, as original content tends to be widely reproduced, it's unique value declines, but its specific value increases. Both of these trends, when combined, can be predictive of future changes in Copyright law.
Reality has a Pedigree
The media reality for most American consumers has expanded, as the terrain of the Web has multiplied, and new devices and channels have come into use. In this mass of individualized media, it is difficult to prove that a particular media-delivered message has a direct effect on consumer behavior. But, in general, many messages repeated frequently can (but not always will) create measurable (but not always predictable) changes in consumer attitudes and behavior.
Or, put in business terms, "advertising works." The billions spent on advertising and marketing worldwide are testimony, as are the dependence that most forms of business and commerce have on active, commercial promotion.
The rise of "marketing" was preceded by the development of "propaganda", or the marketing of theological or political thought, which stretches from the Reformation, through to the development of systemic propaganda campaigns during World War I, and on to the harnessing of academic research to the engines of marketing during the rise of radio and cinema leading up to World War II.
While precise academic determination of opinion formation in individuals is difficult, it is easier to observe the effects of that process at a mass level. Tastes, preferences, public mood, confidence, and beliefs all wax and wane in the presence of an intense media bath that itself is part of the individual collection of realities.
What is different today from the "media bath" of yesteryear is the what that "media content" is being generated, and the vast increase in the number and types of communications channels through which media flow.
Third Concept: Granfallooning Comes Naturally.
We are interested in the way that information flows through society, through technology, and through consumer practice. In particular, we are interested in the way that people come into association through 'affinities' (coincidences of location, artifacts, interests, or beliefs). Borrowing from Kurt Vonnegut (cite), we term "Granfallooning" as the process which results in the formation of spontaneous business and social groups, which are often created at the convergence of communication and interaction.
Social media demonstrate the Granfallooning process. The social infrastructure fosters relationships around content flows (news, texts, tweets, commentary, sports, entertainment); granfallooning occurs in the presence of motivations (political parties, religious organizations, multi-level marketing, drug distribution networks, social causes, business, and other schemes), or content collections (Facebook pages, YouTube videos, commercial collections, retail shopping sites, pornography). It's just a label for the oldest of human behaviors, the tendency for people to gather together into groups that then self-identify.