Neal Freeland

Engineering/marketing manager, family guy. My personal blog with a few work thoughts mixed in.

How to know you’re living in a revolution

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What are the signs that you’re living in a revolution, and how would you know one is underway? There could be a relatively short and violent struggle, like the American Revolution that transformed the country’s political status from King’s colony to independent democracy. That kind of change would be hard to miss. But what if there was a much slower unfolding of mostly non-violent events that gradually transform how people live, like the Industrial Revolution. Would you even notice it happening?

We’re living through one of these slower events right now. The Digital Revolution is creating dramatic technological, political, social, economic and cultural change (see video below for more). Each day we hardly notice the difference, but over time the way we live is changing. Much of the change is exciting: social networking allows people to keep in touch as never before, and help elect a president. But some of the change is painful and scary: the newspaper business is in decline, and the future of journalism’s critical role supporting democracy is unclear.

Once in a while I post a link to an article about Internet advertising, and friends ask me why I want to share something so dull. In part, I’m just keeping up with my profession. But it’s also because I believe that figuring out how to monetize online businesses, and who controls this monetization, are two of the big open questions of the Digital Revolution. While we’re seeing the power of the Internet to mobilize individuals and groups, it’s also true that they who control the money control the age. So I think it’s a big deal that today Yahoo and Microsoft announced a search deal. This may seem like just a small step along the path of this revolution, but I think it’s a critical one. To maintain the financial health of the Internet and support all this wonderful innovation, we need competition and choice in online advertising. It may seem ironic, but in my view Microsoft is the only company that can help ensure a positive future for the Digital Revolution. Go Bing.

Clay Shirky on how social media is changing politics and government. An example of the more noticeable impact of the Digital Revolution.

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Written by nealfreeland

July 29, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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