Dan Gillmor writes about the change technology is bringing and captures the essence of the change that’s taking place:
Processing power grows and accelerates. Storage capacity does the same, and so — while much more sluggishly — does the speed of network connections.
Those trends mean we’re adding intelligence and memory to just about everything, then connecting it all where connections make sense. In this process we’re giving ourselves ever-more-powerful tools to solve problems. The implications — for learning, business efficiency and conservation of natural resources, among many other benefits — are staggering.
Everyday people are starting to realize that they are not just “consumers” but customers — that is, they are becoming serious participants in the marketplace of goods and services. This is a crucial distinction.
A consumer’s role is limited to ordering what’s on the menu and paying for it. A customer wonders what’s not on the menu, asks for something he or she actually wants and then negotiates the terms.
This awakening takes many forms, but a common one is the customer’s empowerment. Technology is the catalyst.
Prospective customers ignore press releases and product pitches. Instead, they are heading to Web sites where they can research the reality and see what current customers have to say.
Journalism organizations watch, mostly dumbfounded, as weblogs and other multidirectional media bring new voices to the conversation. They offer new choices to what I call the “former audience,” the people who are now becoming part of the journalism process itself — to the ultimate benefit of everyone.