You Say You Want A Revolution (the 6th technological revolution)

Technological revolutions usually happen in two phases: the installation phase and the deployment phase. Here’s a chart showing the four previous technological revolutions and a fraction of the current one (Chris Dixon / Carlota Perez).


We can definitely argue we are in the mature part of the 5th phase's deployment. I think it's impressive how fast we shifted from creating-installing stuff on the web to diffusing-optimizing-curating.

  • You don't need to create ecosystems from scratch anymore.
    You publish content on Social Networks.
  • You don't need to build websites.
    You have self-serve platforms like Shopify/Squarespace.
  • You don't need to build apps.
    You find one on Product Hunt or IFTTT.
  • You don't need to build media channels.
    You buy 80% yourself via Google/Facebook.
  • You don't need PR firms.
    You hire influencers via online recruiting platforms.
  • You don't need email marketing suppliers.
    You craft your own emails on Mailchimp.

Obviously, I'm just exaggerating perceptions here. And to be honest, this maturity makes certain areas exciting and others challenging. For example, I'm having a lot of fun marketing some of my personal projects (blog, music band, restaurant) because this infrastructure makes is extremely easy to do stuff online. As an artist, entrepreneur or hobbyist you have access to almost all the big companies tools. There's no friction between ideas and execution.

Conversely, if you're working in a web/digital agency trying to pitch by ambitious/disruptive projects you might get a lot of pushback from your clients because you're competing with an already mature infrastructure. You need to sell more content and fewer containers. Same thing in media – the opportunity cost of working with a media agency VS directly using Google/Facebook directly is huge. You can't sell the containers anymore (oh, by the way, Ben Thomson has an incredible post about that), you need to sell data or analytical skills or whatever-in-house tool you have.

To go back to the graph up there, the synergy phase was when you got paid 310 000$ to create a website you can now do with Squarespace in one weekend. Not in the maturity phase, we think twice about that because the opportunity cost is enormous. Even e-commerce is now a commodity for half of the retailers. I'm not saying executing a profitable e-commerce plan is easy; just saying there are millions of e-commerce stores online, thanks for Shopify & co. 

You could also argue that we're entering the 6th phase with blockchains and cryptocurrencies. The decentralized applications phase. And there will be a ton of building to do That'd be consistent with the theory that says each revolution begins with a financial bubble that fuels rapid installation of the new technology. Was mobile a revolution on its own with its own creation-installation-deployment phases? Are decentralized apps just a chunk of the 5th phase? Will we have to learn how to create apps on the Ethereum network to run profitable ad agencies Irrelevant. We'd be in the big bang - irruption - frenzy - crash cycle right now. The deployment phase is coming and I'm quite certain a lot of tech, marketing and media suppliers will find plenty of opportunities building decentralized apps. 

>>> The cool thing is that now you can re-write the last paragraph using another new technology such as Virtual Reality or Voice Recognition or Artifical Intelligence.

If you haven't noticed, I'm all over the place today. I'm just trying to make some sense of this because it's pretty clear the next decade won't be spent building mobile apps and websites. So what is it going to be? The point is that those who missed the installation phase of the web are lucky because there's phase coming. And it's not taken place in only one city. Because the 5th phase enabled everyone to participate in the subsequent technological revolutions.

You say you want a revolution.
Well, you know.
We all want to change the world.