In the macro history of the human experience, the Internet is an absolute game-changer. Like the wheel or fire or the combustible engine or the microchip, the Internet is a more than a big deal. It affects the way we access information and communicate with one another, thus changing the human experience.
Some things have not changed of course – love, jealousy, envy, kindness. Don’t worry, Shakespeare will never go out of style. Relationships will always be king. But the ways in which we access information and each other, and the way we connect to information and each other, these have shifted greatly – an evolutionary leap.
Francis Bacon famously penned Knowledge is Power. But today, due to the Internet, that’s not true anymore. At least, not in the same way.
Take this simple example: If we were going somewhere by car, then we’d need to know how to get there. Right? If one of us did and the others did not, then the power is in the hands of the one with the knowledge. The rest of us would need that person, need to follow him, or ride with him, to get to where we are going. This situation is symbolic of the economies of the past. The person with the knowledge in his head held the key to power.
Yet today, when we are going somewhere by car, we each search the destination on our phones and access a GPS device that will guide us there. All of us will get there even though most of us do not actually know how to get there. Or more aptly stated, we DO know how to get there… and it involves using a phone and a GPS. That’s the how – exercising connectivity, not storing the information in our heads.
The point is that connectivity is power in this scenario. This is true increasingly in our world, in our markets, and in our communities. Consider that if Wikipedia was a book, it would be over 2.25 million pages long. Can anyone know all of that information in their head? Or is it more meaningful to have access and connectivity to that information?
Thus, knowledge was power. Today, connectivity is power. We use connectivity to constantly supplement knowledge. Of course, we need savvy, wisdom, and knowledge. We always will. But power is no longer held by those who store the information in their heads. Instead, it is held by those who store it on their servers. The key to productivity, to advancement, and to success is connectivity and the savvy to use it well.
I read, hear, and speak often about the knowledge economy. But, I now believe it is poorly titled. We are really in a connectivity economy – an economy that hinges on the creative use of communications, connectivity, and access.