By Mike Meyer
Maybe I’m just too old for this, but Homo sapiens are social primates who imitative everyone around them. And the social things they imitate go in cycles. The cycles lengthen and shorten but are very predictable.
This has been recognized and referred to, usually not by the people who would be helped by it, since the known pattern of Chinese dynasties. I’m struggling not to digress here as ii suddenly occurs to me that may well be the original example of the Hype Cycle.
Almost everyone is familiar with the Hype Cycle presented as a pattern, rather than cycle, that describes the adoption process of new technology. This is a branded graphic description created by Gartner Consulting.
There has been a log of industry and professional commentary on this over the years mostly because it is not a cycle and it doesn’t suggest any real time factor. Actually the problem is that it is not scientific in the sense that it can be reliably applied to any technology introduction. There are just to many differences and, as a result, this doesn’t really predict anything useful in the business or marketing process.
While the criticisms are valid they miss the point. This is a working visualization of how Homo sapiens process change. You won’t be able to use it scientifically to predict when the next stage will happen but you can put a good bet on it following this pattern. And I say that from a long history of being historically inclined, high technology involved, academically employed, and both business and marketing experienced. For what that is worth.
My issue with this is that it works as an historical model and I wish to hell people would decide to do something different. For millennia the process of human social change was so slow that their was no reason to be upset at repeated patterns. In the first five thousand years of human civilization there were very few people who even thought about this stuff. The ones we know about wouldn’t fill a small auditorium.
In the last one hundred years we have done more than in the previous three thousand or so and in the last forty afterburners were ignited. Things are ramping so fast in the last twenty that the acceleration curve is threatening to become a spiral. So people over forty have seen this stuff several times already. You would think they might notice like, hey, I’ve done this shit before with cell phones and ecommerce. And CDs and cable TV. . .
In any case I’m sick of people being sick of Facebook. This is the initially successful, branded representative of a totally new media. And it is incredibly important to about one billion people planet wide. It allows families, interest groups, people with shared problems, and whole subcultures to become active communities without geographic limits or borders.
Well, we have to slice off a piece of that for what China is trying to do but I think they are already discovering that their goals may not be possible. But we need to think about and exert influence because this is a rapidly growing part of what humanity is becoming.
Now, I’m not saying there are not major problems. Mark Zukerberg being a super rich asshole that is in over his head is a relatively minor issue. Personal information (data) is something that they should be paying us to aggregate and use while proving to us that we are fully anonymized with the option to opt out. The EU is trying to do this but it is still very hard. But this was an issue in the very early days of the “web” as this thing used to be called.
From the very beginning of marketing and sales online we talked about this. It was obvious that this was big and being able to capture all aspects of customers, purchases, and resultant patterns was what would make what we knew as advertising something from the Stone Age.
The concurrent realization was that all of our “information” was valuable and would be sold over and over again. Given the already radical and destructive nature American predatory capitalism, nothing matters but profit, people were going to need to change or pay the price of being again exploited. I would tell people who asked about putting their information online, the reality is that you information is already gone. You just don’t know it. Consider it gone and go from there.
We are there now. We need to claw the rights to our information assets back from the capitalist monster but shooting ourselves in the head is not a good way to fix that. The machine has clearly defined the value of our daily information, all of it. They got away with just stealing it but that was necessary. Things have to have a very clear value in the market before they have real value. Where you go, who you communicate with, where you shop, what you buy, what you click like or some equivalent to is all now monetized.
The fight must be to make our government hand that ownership back to us. Not even the EU is doing that yet. If you can follow this an increasing value of aggregated data will end up being our wealth in a very new economy. And this is starting to be understood.
In this case look at the Hype Cycle. We are approaching the bottom of the slough of despond and starting to climb up to mature usage and realistic expectations of benefits and risks. The social and human benefits are so great that it is ridiculous to delete everything and go off in huff. All those people made their statement. They’ll sulk for awhile and then get back on if they even, actually quite as they said.
There is a tremendous amount of important restructuring of social media in the wake of the fall from unreasonable expectations. We had a real shock from the election of 2016 and Russian use of Facebook to manipulate a critical mass of people into self destruction. That shows how important this stuff is.
No technology company now is likely to last more than twenty years and ten is a safer number. We are just beginning to figure this out and the predatory capitalist fixation on money means everyone was imitating everyone else to make their stash. Now there are many other things that need to be thought about. And if you don’t and get big enough the EU will fine you a few billion dollars and cause to notice.
On the other side people are very aware of what you may be doing with their information and to them. The really easy sucker days are over. The Russians and the other fox behind Trump has it easy. They could scoop up the suckers by shouting Fox News memes at those people. They had been prepared. If you think about that a minute questions really do come to mind. But that is another topic.
Facebook is not going to be crippled by this. It does need to innovate in the correct direction and quitting isn’t going to do that. If you want to quite Snapchat because that is now cool that is because it was really hot before. If it is useful to you don’t pay attention to the trends.
Snapchat or others will end, be bought, transform themselves or move to China. That will happen. Tumblr, despite the wails of doom, may survive without a full menu of pornography, but the communities that centered on diverse orientations are a bigger issue. Diversity is king so they will go somewhere better. If Tumblr ends then so be it.
The next phase is starting and that is far more important than playing games on the predictable part of the hype cycle and is paying people for data (Medium is a one model). There is room now for real innovation in assurance of control and security of your information but freedom to share what you like and be paid for that. Watch for it.
And enough of this “How I quit Facebook . . “ crap.