Will we Afford Internet 3?

by Roger Pynn

What impact the economic downturn will have on marketing communications seems inextricably linked, in my mind, to the public’s willingness or ability to continue investing in the toys that many are predicting will drive the future of the Internet.

A just-released study by Pew Internet suggests that the telephone will become the primary access to the Internet … no, not your landline but that little thing in your pocket or purse.

Pew said the experts who made up their panel agree on the use of the phone, but not necessarily on “whether this will lead to more social tolerance, more forgiving human relations, or better home lives.

The glaring question really seems to be whether we will continue to buy what the manufacturers and carriers are tempting us with every day, not because we believe they will improve our lives but whether, in fact, we are convinced they have already … and whether our increasingly limited resources ought to be spent on one more tech toy that brings one more bell, one additional whistle, one more amazing application we never knew we needed, but which will certainly steal more of our precious time.

Wireless devices could be the most powerful form of targeted communication. Instead, however, they seem in many ways to have become a roadblock to the new kind of personal communications the Internet promises. Heads buried in a 3.5” screen, a Bluetooth headset dangling from our ear, many of us are isolating ourselves to the point that we are no longer available to see or hear what else surrounds us … certainly not the Internet.

Add to this the incessant dance of marketers to any new form of Internet communication they perceive will get them in their target markets’ wallet. Whether it is Twitter or Facebook or some yet-to-be-invented social network, as Seth Godin points out advertisers always seem to get there just in time to screw it up.

Communications theorists must be numb as they watch us set up roadblock after roadblock to the messages we so desperately need to send and receive … not the ones that sell us something but instead the ones that make us more complete: completely informed, completely aware of our surroundings, completely comfortable with who we are.

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