How Much More Connected Can You Afford to Be?
"Well, I'm gonna' get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out." - Sam Baldwin, Sleepless in Seattle (Tristar - 1993)
Hopping out of bed, checking voicemail, checking our email, checking a few gotta' see Web sites, having a cup of coffee is the fairly typical start of most people's day around the globe, around the calendar.
Two billion plus computers, four billion plus plus mobile devices, a gazillion (and growing) Web sites, blogs, social nets and instant in-touch services have shrunk the world--and the clock--to fit nicely in our screen(s).
That's one of the reasons we savor the few hours every few months we spend underwater. Gliding through the water...exploring nooks and crannies...watching the varieties of sea life floating by...listening to our bubbles from our regulator and watching them rise.
Sure, it's flat cool.
It also has another benefit.
It's pretty much guaranteed to be one of the few places we cannot use a cellphone or computer.
We can't reach out to and can't be reached by people who absolutely, positively must get ahold of us right NOW!!!
Anywhere else you and we (actually about 20 percent of the total world population) are connected.
Big Pipes, Longer Time
The bigger the pipes' bandwidth in a an area, the more people are connected.
At work and at school, being able to connect is expected.
It turns out 8, 10, 12 hours staring at the screen isn't enough.
Whether at home or at work, it's not uncommon for you to walk into someone's room/office, stand there for quite some time and then have them suddenly look up like Sam Baldwin did and ask "How long have you been standing there?"
TNS Research says an average of 30 percent of people with Internet connectivity are online just to be online. China, South Korea and Japan top the list with the greatest percentage of people spending their leisure time online (about 40 percent).
Our kids like us to believe that the Internet and Web were developed solely by and for their Net Generation.
Fortunately, a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project research report reassured us that people of all ages are online...actively online!
In fact, the Internet population closely parallels the age groups' share of the general population.
The age groups are just online for different things.
Today, there are tons of ways to communicate with individuals and with groups - Twitter, Skype, IM, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook...
Despite the new billion-dollar (valuation) options, plain old email continues to be the leading means of communicating with people. The next most important use of the Internet and Web is to find things, find stuff, learn stuff.
eMail is the one thing everyone can master without jumping through a bunch of hoops and remembering/living with a whale of a lot of rules.
The social networking sites that have great potential are those that put you in touch with and allow you to share content with friends, family. These are the locations where you can share/spend time with people you might really spend time with in person if you weren't so busy on your fantastic communications device!
The number of Web 2.0 technologies, options can't seem to grow fast enough.
They open the world for us to do research, shop, compare, learn, bank, be entertained and entertain, get health information, make travel reservations, get work information (present and future jobs), buy/sell and just do stuff that keeps you from going to bed.
Our kids and the groupies that follow the newer, even better options swear that each is the best.
Face it...blogs and microblogs will come and go.
"Their" fame will fade...you'll outgrow them...they didn't really have that much worthwhile to say anyway.
Waiting for their next Tweet or Twerp as they expose even more of themselves on the web for everyone, forever to see just isn't worth losing sleep over!
We know, we're cynical. A lot like Walter in Sleepless..."Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it."
But personal interest areas...that's a whole different breed.
Community sites -- as long as they stay focused -- will continue, they'll grow, they'll prosper.
Look at the list...hobbies, social, professional.
A group of people from literally around the globe congregate at one location to share information, ideas of common interest.
They bring people from long ago and far away together to share.
It's not surprising for a site member to rediscover someone as Sam Baldwin did..."She looks like my third grade teacher, and I hated my third grade teacher... wait a minute, she IS my third grade teacher!"
Think marketers aren't overly interested in identifying, reaching, working with these folks?
As long as the companies (or their communications folks) don't try to take "ownership" of the community, it can be a symbiotic and profitable relationship for everyone involved.
The problem is, it is tempting and community members can sense when it happens.
Members will listen to Annie Reed ask, "Do you feel that any lie is a betrayal?"
They'll answer with their feet.
That's when folks pack their belongings and move to new communities.
But the online world - regardless of the screen size - will continue to grow as the networks become more robust.
With sufficient bandwidth the ROW (rest of world) may become as sleep deprived as areas like Iceland, Japan, Korea where it's all there for you...tons of data, information to quickly tap into...voice/video...games...professional and not so professional video.
Of course, as we begin to expect high-definition and 3D content, the transition will be nearly complete.
All we'll need then is a whole new set of devices to help move us from the digital age to the connected age.
As we noted, there is a downside for people who work so hard to have their 15 minutes of fame in the Internet spotlight.
But it can also have its upside in being connected because you have more opportunities to learn and actually create or add value to the Web.
The social network sites have lost their cool factor with our kids and they've moved on to the next great thing.
But maybe that's a good thing.
Now the sites, the blogs, the communities are finding their audiences that are becoming really involved as the young crowd moves on.
And lest you forget - it's sometimes tough to remember - even the young crowd gets older!
The stable online locations may be where the loyalty, the commitment, the money, the future lies.
These online sites won't be sexy enough for venture capitalists to dump bundles of money into hoping for that huge return.
But for the people who matter, the people who are connected, there are only so many sites you can visit in a day, so many accounts you can manage, so many things you can do/enjoy without work or sleep interrupting your life online.
Established and stable locations aren't the kinds of places you're going to tweet your friends about.
But if you find something really hot and something we've simply got to participate in...send us an email!
We'll read it in the morning...