Remember the 1960′s, the Age of Aquarius? Creativity flowered. Tabus were broken. People loved the one they were with and marched against war. What charming innocence. Eventually the country evolved into something more materialistic and hawkish.
I think the Internet is in its own Age of Aquarius right now. Consider:
- We’re advised not to actually sell in online communities, but rather to “build trust” and “form relationships” in unspoken anticipation of enhancing sales.
- Content is given away for free. It’s almost a requirement.
- You can still contact important people like Jane Friedman, Chris Brogan or Seth Godin and have them answer you back.
- With just a Twitter comment you can scare a big company like Lowe’s home improvement.
- You can send a question out to the vast unknown and get a helpful response. Maybe from a person in another country.
- People still feel important when their name appears in a blog post, even if only in the comments section.
- The statement, “I have a blog,” isn’t yet greeted with a yawn.
It’s kind of endearing, don’t you think? So earnest and open. So 1960′s.
I don’t mean to bum you out, but I suspect this age of innocence might not last. For example, if I were the editor of a big newspaper I’d be ready to jump from the boardroom windows to the streets below over this expectation that I run an international news-gathering service for free. Governments are felled by text message. I don’t know how long they’re going to put up with that degree of uppity-ness from the hoi polloi.
Call me pessimistic, but it seems likely that Big Business will eventually have its way with the web and we’ll be forced into narrow channels of content based on what GE, TimeWarner or the Koch Brothers want us to read, say, buy or access. You might keep an eye out in case a vote comes up, or a march on Washington or something. But at the moment, it’s still the wild, wild West. Some day you’ll be able to tell your grandkids how open and wonderful it was. Peace and love.