For many of us, the term “Digital Revolution” and its many iterations has become one of the most clichéd concepts we know. However, there is a great deal of truth behind the dilution of this term, as electronic media have forever changed the way individuals access information.
What we are experiencing — as students, teachers, consumers, business owners, and overall as information seekers — is a shift in how we perceive the world around us and the means through which we interact with it. In the last ten years alone, there has been a swift repositioning away from traditional media such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, magazines, direct mail and catalogs. In today’s marketplace, those channels simply do not get the job done in our fast pace, immediate gratification, “what have you done for me lately” society. Instead, information is sought through internet-based platforms such as Yahoo! and Wiki Answers, search engines, Wikipedia, blogs (just like this one!), smart-phone applications and social media to name a few.
In nearly all of these new communication platforms, people seek pertinent, focused and individualized answers that once took hours or even days to find. Many websites allow users to share answers to questions on topics they have expertise in; even the most humble folks can seek answers directly from an intelligent, dedicated individual who browses these site specifically to answer those questions he or she is able to address. This system is not without its flaws, as the open-source mentality leaves room for vandals to wreak havoc. However, the developers of these communities are getting smarter, and learning to combat the vandalism through community involvement. Those who post information and answers on these sites take pride in their work, as do those who gain from taking in the information. This motivates them to constantly check-in on their articles in the case that it’s necessary to “reboot” to the last update, before the vandalism was placed on the page.
So what does this mean for marketing and business in general? As companies adapt to social media, customers are able to discuss questions or concerns directly with company representatives, and join masses of other people who share the same viewpoints. Such a communication channel would not exist without this trend towards digital information. While “Digital Revolution” may be a term that has lost its clout, there is still no doubt that information search and retrieval is changing rapidly.
What does the future hold? That is a question we must begin understanding now that electronic media has taken the main stage as our primary information source. In my opinion, the future is “mobile”. As smart phones become a societal norm and data plans reach more affordable price points, such as AT&T’s recent $15 smart phone data plan, more and more consumers will have the power of the internet at the palm of their hand. Smart phones are so accessible now, in fact, that many experts predict they will overtake the World Wide Web as the primary source of Internet traffic.
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