As I progress further into this field I started to wonder about its nature – what business am I in? A broader look, including trendspotters and coolhunters over tech writers to policy developers, makes me realize I’m in the business of novelty. Whether it’s a new gadget or business model, changing consumption patterns or the latest development in foreign relations, it’s all driven by a relentless search for the next big thing.
This also happens in academia, where new diagnoses of society are brought forward all the time: we hear that we are now moving into the Information, Risk or Network Society, and that the New Economy is driven by Carbon, Attention or even Links. The underlying premise always seem to be the same: this recent development fundamentally changes the rules of the game, and you need to take it into consideration if you don’t want to be left behind.
This is a very alluring notion: the established order is crumbling, and everything is up for grabs. Can you afford to ignore it? I like to keep two things in mind:
First, the only ones who can’t afford you to buy into an idea are the people behind it, and the only ideas you can’t afford to ignore are your own.
Second, that any development, any new diagnosis of society, is an addition to what’s already there; not a replacement. As important as knowledge is in modern society, it might affect but never render production and agriculture obsolete.
Remember the big picture, and don’t get caught up in the Hype. That might just be the next big thing.