Creating a digital brand with a business model on the fleeting Internet ain’t no walk in the park. In the heydays of the World Wide Web, Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired, noted in his book “New Rules for the New Economy” (pdf) about 21 years ago that
“The dynamic of our society, and particularly our new economy, will increasingly obey the logic of networks. Understanding how networks work will be the key to understanding how the economy works.” – Kevin Kelly
A simple search for “bait” as seen in the Yahoo ad (1998) above, wields better results than knowledge passed on by human interaction in form of cultural codes. Information at your fingertips gives you an advantage, you’ll not only get more fish, but much bigger fish. Since knowledge on bait is fluid in a search network, you can be lonely, selfish and totally independent, all you need is Yahoo.
I think one of our misconceptions about digital networks that we take for granted today, initially developed by the military, then tinkered with and promoted by hippies in the Bay Area, is the ability of stupid capital to accumulate, manipulate and entertain itself in those networks.
Those new rules aren’t all that new, patterns of social structures existed before, they simply weren’t as visible, akin to plankton, only seen when lit up and put into relational action. Armin Nassehi is taking on those misconceptions in his current book “Muster” (2019) and asks the question what problem digitization actually solves?
Manuell Castells looked at the importance of information and it’s interconnectedness in his book “The Rise of the Network Society” (2000) and noted that it’s not that new. What is new is the informational shift to the manipulation of information itself: the “action of knowledge upon knowledge itself” as the base to increased productivity.
It seems that this shift is still around, the manipulation, distraction from human interaction or search for a deeper knowledge of oneself, others and the wonders of the universe. We rely too much on networks driven by bait. “Bowling Alone” (2001) can be viewed as the forerunner to being lonely in digital apparatuses, fishing alone in search of fish, entertaining oneself for no apparent reason.
I have faith, the pendulum is swinging, solidarity for spiritual and social wealth is taking root even on the streets. And if we better understand human networks that have a deeper connection with our nature rather than “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (1985) we can increase productivity and weed out manipulation and distraction.