Sunday, March 20, 2011

We're Out of Internet Time

[caption id="attachment_589" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The sweet spot: No costs in next to no Internet time"]


Remember the roaring nineties? E-verything  was e-commerce e-xuberence. A dotcom domain was a license to go public. Actual customers and products were exempted from establishing share prices on a uniquely American vintage of snake oil.

One of the other vestiges of the NASDAQ bubble was the notion of Internet time. This was the tagline update for an economy that never sleeps. No one wanted to have fallen prey to the old familiar PE ratios or even acknowledge that old school thinking had any sway on emerging business models.

The financial services supply chain was no longer tangible. But at least it was still intelligible -- no? Okay, we settled for legible back then in those bulging Internet-based portfolios. Then came the spook show of 2001 and these notions were beaten into weightlessness -- not by regulators but the laws of financial gravity. Only then did the Worldcoms, Enrons, Tycos, etal. spiral away from shareholders, employees, and other interdependent life forms on planet money.

Losing Track of Internet Time

In the Dotcom era, complacency became the new taboo. You could be going nowhere. You could be revving over-funded engines off cliffs of falling cash flows. Just no two-hour lunches, man. The alarm clock had rung and the snooze bar was jammed.  Every day we were told how “hot” companies and “cool” products were intensifying established markets or creating new ones:

  • How hot?

  • How cool?

  • How intense?

It didn't much matter. There were so many winners in this most generous of competitions. Angel investors were flipping start-ups. The Feds sat in a corner. Stagnation was abolished. Companies simply grew or died. Both experiences were nearly instant.

All comers were out for one thing: to please the 'mother-of-all networks' as the nurturing vessel and growth serum. That was no Goodyear Blimp. That was a gaggle of rippling packet switches so enmeshed it eclipsed all television, telephony, and satellite networks combined. Remember all meeting there for the first time? Meeting anywhere else would never be the same.

Who in 1994 could have predicted that within 5 years desktop "searching" would become as cheap and pervasive as mouse pads and screen savers?

What's a screen saver?

The truth is that Internet Time has done the unthinkable. It has frozen our cluttered calendars in their tracks. How do I know? I woke up from my millennial hangover this morning and witnessed a miracle. We now have all the time in the world. I say that because online is no longer a useful distinction for defining offline. There's now only the folks who have severed the signal and the rest of us.

We pay through the nose for free information with calendars that are anything but free.

And how about that most favored time = cost factor ... the biological father of all business metrics? On Internet Time information wants to be free. Our calendars are not free at all but we're willing to spend untrackable hours tackled by our own fruitless searches. The paradox is astonishing. Information from the web is as plentiful as it is free and we still pay through the nose. How?

All-you-can-drink access has gone from flirtation, to utility, to civil liberty. So too the search engine as social moderator means that we only pay cash for pushing merchandise or pulling it in. That leaves a whole lot of intangible inventory around shopping for ideas, buying arguments and paying with our limited attentions as well as wallets.  But it's easier to spend all that unlimited attention on people-watching than self-educating and acting on what we learn.

The last time I set my alarm clock I never heard it go off. Or perhaps it had never stopped ringing? Next time you research, Google like you paid for it.

[caption id="attachment_587" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Last week's kickoff of Online Investigations for Pioneer Valley Professionals"][/caption]

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attentionSpin is a consulting practice formed in 1990 to create, automate and apply a universal scoring system (“The Biggest Picture”) to brands, celebrities, events and policy issues in the public eye. In the Biggest Picture, attentionSpin applies the principles of market research to the process of media analytics to score the volume and nature of media coverage. The explanatory power of this research model: 1. Allows practitioners to understand the requirements for managing the quality of attention they receive 2. Shows influencers the level of authority they hold in forums where companies, office-seekers, celebrities and experts sell their visions, opinions and skills 3. Creates meaningful standards for measuring the success and failure of campaigns and their connection to marketable assets.