And you may ask yourself, “how did I get here?” We answered that question in the blog next to this one, spelling out the factors driving the impending birth of a planetary mesh of data. Individuals and companies that prepare for this change, right now, will benefit tremendously. However they must be aware that the pace of economic transformation and creative destruction will be greater than any we have ever seen.
So if you’d like to find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile, in a beautiful house, you’d better hurry up and ask, “how do I work this?” What follows is a guide of what you can expect from the mesh and some suggestions for response.
First, in its last-ditch efforts to catch up, government will increase the complexity of regulation as the mesh comes into full effect. We can expect a flurry of legislation intended to control the datastream and it will have an impact on the pace and outcome of the transition. You will need to hitch your wagon to a firm capable of interpreting the new regulations and able to configure both your technology and policy to conform to the new guidelines. Most IT departments and firms will be so busy fighting fires that a whole new role will need to be created in most organizations to deal with the complexities of regulatory compliance. Some companies will create a Chief Technology Regulatory Officer, something like a technologist, lawyer and accountant combined into one role (and compensated like the three of them put together). Smarter companies will outsource this headache to an outside firm initially.
Second, the easy and secure transmission of accurate data will obviate FICO scores, eBay reputations, and other parochial reputation management tools. These will likely be usurped by some kind of blockchain-product. Hundreds of such products are in development and if the development arc looks anything like word processing, soon there will be just one – the “Word” of blockchain. This will be great news for consumer and B2B transactions which will see trust and accuracy increase. It will be terrible news for the less savory elements in our society. It will be awful news for insurers unless they figure out a way to elevate themselves or multiply volume by enough to escape becoming mere clearinghouses. But rates should go down and quality should go up for consumers and most businesses.
Copyright will be one of the biggest casualties. This might be awful for media conglomerates but could signal a return to what was a better time for artists and consumers. It won’t be the outright death of the pay for content recurring model, but the utility of scale will diminish greatly. We might get back to a society like we had before the phonograph—where people were paid handsomely to perform their content, not for reproductions of their work. Fortunately, companies that have the vision and advice to keep their content most competitive and prolific will compete well in this environment.
Other possibilities include the end of the finance based economy, proliferation of service based opportunities, and a rout in the fintech sector. I’ll cover these issues of platform dominance in a future blog.
In the past when similar transformations have fundamentally shifted the economy, entirely new classes of experts emerged.
When people started to form collective agrarian communities, they needed to navigate the fact that humans can only remember about 150 or so people. Communities of greater than 150 or so made early people feel dissonant and sad, which made their crops fail, so they sought help. The role of the shaman was born, and the shaman helped people interpret new social complexities through the chanting of incantations, brewing of root-laced potions, ingestion of herbs and, eventually, religion.
When people started to form the law as we know it today, they needed to navigate the fact that it is based on millions of millions of lines of code and precedent. This made 1800s people feel criminal, in addition to dissonant and sad, so they sought help. The role of the barrister was born and the lawyers still help us interpret legal complexities through contracts, litigation, and compliance audits.
When people created the modern finance economy, they needed to navigate the fact that it had billions of lines of ledger entry and millions of lines of code. This made 1880s people feel broke, as well as criminal, dissonant, and sad. See where this is going? Accountants help us interpret financial standards and complexities, and their audits are how we establish our reputations in many cases.
When people created the Internet it had billions of billions of lines of code. Chief Technology Officer, Webmaster, and the modern digital agency … enough said about the comforting, moneymaking, interpretive role they play.
Who will play this shamanistic role for the global mesh, whose lines of code and encoded transmissions will dwarf the current Internet by unimaginable exponents? Who will people and companies turn to for help to not feel dissonant, sad, criminal, broke, disconnected, friendless, and hopeless? They’ll need advisors who gained familiarity with the mesh by working with it early on—and who can translate the mesh into resonant, human-to-human communications.
If you’re the kind of person who feels better when you have any combination of solid legal advice, a meaningful technology plan, a solid pastoral relationship, and maybe a cold beer … you’re going to want a mesh advisor. Someone who knows their stuff and can interpret it to be meaningful. What form this relationships will take will be as varied as the outcomes themselves.
I’ll cover more about the qualities of good mesh advisors in a future blog.