Anybody who has read anything about media in the last 50 years or so is familiar with Marshall McCluhan’s warning that “the medium is the message.”
As prescient as that idea was, McCluhan was really hinting at the early signs of a more seismic shift. A shift that increasingly concentrates control -- and the power of the marketplace -- in the hands of the consumer. It’s that shift that has created what we call The Pinhole Economy®, where consumers use both behavioral and technological apertures to influence the marketplace.
McCluhan anticipated the causes of The Pinhole Economy. He recognized that as technology evolved, the line between content and delivery vehicle was blurring. Today, that same technological shift is also blurring the line between corporation and consumer.
Corporations fundamentally use capital to develop production capacity that creates and concentrates wealth. And consumers fundamentally use their wealth to stimulate (and sometimes depress) production. It’s been a system in balance, for the most part, since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
But that balance is in flux. The technology explosion of the last 20 years has already put intense pressure on the distributors that facilitated the system. Witness the dwindling fortunes of bookstores and travel agents, for example, and the corresponding rise in fortunes of sites such as Amazon and Expedia. Anything that can be distributed via technology will be. It’s not a pretty picture for distributors.
And as more and more goods are able to be distributed via technology, that trend will continue. But will it stop there?
In the next post, we’ll look at what the future might hold if -- or when -- the trend expands.
For more on the Pinhole, you know what to do.
Flickr photo courtesy of ARM Climate Research Facility
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