Author: Marc Fawzi
Fact: trusted individuals are once again the source of news in a society (bloggers)
Fact: word of mouth is once again how news spreads (viral marketing)
Fact: people once again hunt and gather in a group (del.icio.us)
Fact: people once again group things using words like small, big, happy, sad, funny, food rather than detailed hierarchical structures (tags)
Fact: impulsive consumption (i.e. “hunt and eat” or “click and enjoy”) and impulsive production (i.e. “less initial planning”, e.g. Google’s “betas”) are back in style.
Fact: once again, sharing between people cannot be explained with the strict concept of economic reciprocity and is being explained by the egalitarian and optimistic notion that what is good for all is good for one (YouTube, del.icio.us, etc.)
These are all traits of a hunter-gatherer society, i.e. a pre-agricultural society.
Tens of thousands of years of behavioral evolution wiped out in just a few years.
Human behavior and society have evolved for a reason. It may be that the Internet is simply freeing the hunter gatherer inside us, but I wonder if bringing out an ancient ingrained behavior will upset the equilibrium that was achieved through tens of thousands of years of behavioral evolution. I realize that the last statement sounds like the plot for Jurassic Park (the “hunter gatherer” in us as the suddenly reborn dinosaur ready to wreck havoc on modern-day socio-economic structures), but it’s a plausible suggestion given that the Web has already had a great disruptive effect on some industries, e.g. newspapers and soon the media hierarchy at large. Speaking of the media hierarchy, a hunter gatherer society is by definition incapable of supporting the concept of a formal, non-arbitrary social, economic or political hierarchy.
Is this where we’re headed? Should we expect the Web 2.0 hunter-gatherer behaviors identified above to make their way into society at large? And what effect will that have on the stability of our socio-economic system?
More relevantly, for the Enterprise 2.0 crowd, should we bring the hunter-gatherer behavior to the highly evolved socio-economic structure of the enterprise? (I can’t believe I just said “highly evolved” and “enterprise” in one sentence, but I’m speaking in relative terms here) Wouldn’t that be like bringing matter and anti-matter together? Won’t the two annihilate each other? Shouldn’t we try to adopt only those parts of the Web 2.0 paradigm that are compatible with the structures of the enterprise? Or how much change would be considered good change? And does the “hunter gatherer” based Web 2.0 paradigm represent progress or regression compared to what exists today in the enterprise?
These are good questions to chew on.
Web 2.0, Web 2.0, Anthropology, Trends, cultural anthropology, sharing, hunter gatherer, evolution, del.icio.us, YouTube, society, Web Evolution, hunter gatherer society, AJAX, file sharing, video sharing, behavioral economics, Enterprise 2.0