A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

New World 'Consumerism'

The crises of our time, it becomes increasingly clear, are the necessary impetus for the revolution now under way. And once we understand nature’s transformative powers, we see that it is our powerful ally, not a force to be feared or subdued.
— Thomas Kuhn

Around this time three years ago, I wrote a piece called The Socialization of Products and Services that garnered about 17k views and a nice little comment thread. At that time, companies were starting to ride the new wave of the ‘connected world’, which involved everything from AR apps, to QR codes, to new content systems, to new forms of currency and credit.

To my mind, the ‘social’ part is still as elusive as it ever was when you consider the breadth and severity of socioeconomic conditions we face in the developing and first worlds alike. Consumption has changed face quite a lot, and not necessarily for the better. And where deficiencies like these lie, opportunities abound.

Most companies, via their brands, believe that their products and services matter and that they can use data, research and clever marketing to substantiate their market positions. This is a half-truth.

Marketing disciplines and marketing services are often geared towards their own self-promotion and expanded shelf life rather than on solving real problems and providing discernible value. Just like 'innovation' tends to be done and sold in a box. Both are belief systems more than they are applications. We need to reverse this. And we will, simply because we'll have to.

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Soon enough, companies won't have to sell products because the markets themselves will produce them. Think of how flavored seltzers are created with home kits... And imagine that at scale. The makers and DIY movements are further evidence of this shift. This is really about what people do together, in an applied capacity, and what companies can provide in terms of resource, production and distribution. The socially ‘connected world’ as it were.

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Does this mean we do away with belief systems? Of course not. It means that applied systems will create beliefs that we can anchor in efforts that drive tangible results and actually build markets. A big difference, which makes data about the small and the relevant, and assets like content about the story... And products and services all about the people.

Human needs are the markets.

Better questions provide solutions.

Values are the competitive sets.

Co-ops are the organized ‘brands’ of the future.

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