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Bring the Edge to the Center and the Center to the Edge


If you’ve known me for a while, maybe you’re wondering, “What’s Chris up to right now? Why is he talking about stuff like AI, blockchain, chatbots, and the IoT?” I know. It feels weird, because maybe you have me categorized wrong like lots of people do. Maybe you thought I was supposed to talk about tweets and emails forever, as if they were ever the goal and not just the delivery mechanism.

Not going to happen.

What’s Exciting is The Marketplace

I love the reality that’s upon us right now. The marketplace of old, that physical crossroads where merchants and the community intersected to exchange goods, has long since vanished. Sure, a few bazaars happen out in the world, but mostly for show. They make good tourist pictures.

The marketplace now is at the edge. It’s where we are. And so is the community. So are the opportunities. Everything is at the edge. It’s nowhere. You don’t have to BE somewhere any more, if you don’t want. Or, if the somewhere part is important, you can bring what you need to the edge.

Bring the Edge to the Center and the Center to the Edge

I can be face down in writing this and say aloud, “Alexa, order me some more AA batteries,” and they’ll arrive two days from now without me having to think anything more about it. I’m at the center of the marketplace wherever I am. Amazon’s Echo platform is an Internet of Things (IoT) play that hints ever so vaguely at what we’ll all be doing naturally in the next few years.

My cultural intentions are easier to facilitate. My community of shared interest is easier to thread together. With blockchain, I’ll very soon be able to order the KIND of electrical power I want to pay for (water, wind, solar) and thus be able to vote for my beliefs with my dollars. ( This is what I mean.)

The same way web tools like blogs and YouTube and Twitter and so on have allowed more and more people to be media stars, the NEXT layer of all this will be driven by blockchain and IoT and chatbots and AI and we’ll have a lot more control of our data, a lot more options for extracting and sharing value, and many ways to curate and create the kind of interactions we want to have.

Social Networks for the Edge

Just as all the big social networks are feeling fatter and less about “us,” all the little dating apps and simpler social networks are picking up steam because they’re allowing like minded communities to form and bring all these people around all these various edges to a joined center.

It starts with dating apps (Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, etc) and moves into whatever other interests people want to gather around. I googled “Cannabis social network” and there were a dozen or more. I googled “LGBT social network” and found plenty. Vegan? Yep. Whatever you want to search for, there are now smaller and simpler social networks hiding in the shadows of the “big guys.”

Data as Fuel and as Center-Makers

What comes soon (it’s here already, but just not evenly distributed) are all the innovations in data being more available, faster, and able to be tailored to our interests. Right now we use Cortana and Google Home to initiate requests. Soon, our virtual assistants will sift massive stacks of information to pick what we teach them we care about. Oh, there’s a Babymetal concert tomorrow in Boston AND tickets are only $50 AND two other people I know and like who like Babymetal have already said yes? Sure. Buy it. Done.

Right now, there’s either no data, too much data, or no way to do something useful quickly with data for many of us. That will change. And as it does, the tools we use to work with that information will adapt and grow and learn to anticipate our needs and bring what matters to us to the center.

The Story Continues

The stories I’m telling through my Podcast and my Amazon Flash Briefing and via my newsletter (and my forthcoming book) are all building towards helping us figure this all out. The same way I showed you (and continue to show you) how blogs and podcasts and video are neato, I want to help you find your way through all the new stuff.

What’s the best way to build a chatbot that won’t upset your customers?

How can you thread together a few simple blockchain apps and suddenly get more business from the big guys?

What will AI look like when it’s just a service you rent the way you pay for web hosting?

That’s what I’m working on with you.

I’ll bring all those weird edges to our mutual center. Are you with me? It’s going to get even more crazy (but in only the best of ways)!

If this has been interesting

Consider grabbing my newsletter. It’s only going up from here.

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17 August, 2018

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