Samuel P.N. Cook
Oct 9, 2021
What do we mean by the “Experts Economy”? And what is the Past and Future?
First, let’s start with a little history.
Because that’s where everything starts for me...
Among the many things I remember during my days as a West Point cadet are the words on a single poster hung prominently in the halls of the storied institution's History Department.
It simply said:
"Much of the history we teach was made by the people we taught."
Now, there aren't a lot of institutions that can get away with displaying such self-assured promise, but West Point certainly has earned the right to be in that club.
Nothing wrong with setting a high bar.
But it was heady stuff for a young cadet (hint: me) who initially wasn't even sure what he was doing there in the first place.
I'm asked often about why I went to West Point.
As you'll hear me describe in this interview with Dr. Alise Cortez on her Working With Purpose radio show, I think it's the wrong question.
Looking back at the demanding crucible that is West Point, I don’t think it's a matter of, "Why did you go there?"
It's: "Why did you STAY?"
And I not only stayed, but I returned years later to teach history to cadets.
(That’s me teaching at West Point, circa 2013.)
If you own a business, you understand this level of passion and commitment implicitly.
Deciding to start a business is easy. Showing the fortitude and patience to make it successful is not.
Anyone can fall into a pool. Swimming to the other side is another matter.
So let’s look at history to explain why I think we’re now headed into a golden age of the Experts Economy...
A little over 200 years ago, about 98% of the world’s population worked from home. They would roll out of bed at sunrise, and farm their real estate.
Then came the Industrial Revolution.
Something entirely new had been invented: the 9-to-5 work week where you didn’t work from home.
Instead people commuted to a job at a factory. Then the rise of office spaces in the information economy.
But now today with technology (and hastened by a global pandemic), everyone's working from home again.
It’s not just a case of history repeating itself…
It’s a matter of massive inequities rearing their head … AGAIN.
Because don’t kid yourself …
Farmworkers in Ukraine, for example, were not fulfilling some romantic notion of “living off the land.”
All the profits went to the landowners, such as the Tsar of Russia.
Well, we’re all working on plantations again, except this time they’re digital.
Zuckerberg and the rest of the tech oligarchy are making all the money for themselves and their investors.
We spend all our time creating the value (content), but in reality we’re just sharecropping on their platform.
We till the land, they milk all the profits.
It’s the world’s oldest story: Only those at the very top get rich.
Which of course always leads to a reckoning…
In the case of Europe in the late 18th century, it was the French Revolution and all kinds of political upheaval.
Something similar is happening right now with the digital asset class, but no one's really paying attention to it.
But cracks are starting to show.
There's simply no way to write this newsletter without acknowledging what's been happening with Facebook in recent days.
It's not just the 6-hour outage it suffered on Oct. 6 (although it was a sobering reminder of just how much of the internet Facebook owns.).
Nor is this about all the hand-wringing it caused from bloggers and gurus everywhere who pointed out (rather obviously) that it's better to OWN your own platforms.
Which is certainly true (and is at the heart of why we created our SanityDesk platform.).
But those issues are just flecks of lint on the shoulder of a much bigger problem.
It's a rabbit hole worth going down, if only to arm yourself with the necessary perspective to effectively strategize against what I call The Great Consolidation, which is nothing less than Big Tech's utter callous disregard for you, the small business owner.
For example, watch the 2020 documentary film, "The Social Dilemma" if you haven't already. Its alarming conclusions are only surpassed by its prescience.
Or go read the book, "Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe."
Or read this excellent recap of the damning testimony from Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower opening the eyes of the world to the fact that we're the world's largest social media platform is looking and sounding a lot like, ahem, Big Tobacco.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Mark Zuckerberg is the new Tsar of Russia.
Can this be remedied? We believe it can.
People now are looking at Facebook as if it's something only recently curdled.
There's this notion that if only we had only regulated it more, or reined it in somehow, some moderation here, a piece of legislation there, that somehow the promise of "everyone connected all the time" could have been a good thing for all concerned.
That now seems quaintly optimistic. It's becoming clear that Facebook's very architecture is what makes it so harmful.
Anthropologists have argued that the maximum number of stable social connections a person can maintain is right around 150.
If we were to apply that same logic to the stability of an entire social platform, what number would we find?
Some Internet scholars put that number no higher than 20,000.
Facebook now serves 3.5 billion people. Is it any wonder it feels like we can't stop what Facebook has started? That they're not even in control of their own algorithm?
This is one reason our all-in-one Growth Operating System at SanityDesk is not meant to serve everyone. It's only for the small to medium-sized business.
Look, none of this is meant to sound alarmist or intended to scare you.
By taking the steps to own your own data and platform as much as you can (which is one of the reasons we created our all-in-one SanityDesk software in the first place), you can feel assured that you've covered your bases and that your business stands on firm ground.
If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that we’ve made it ourmission to find effective alternatives to the measly crumbs that Big Tech offers when it comes to putting our businesses online.
I even shot a video rife with fascinating historical references to bring home the point that as much as things change, the more they stay the same.
You can see that video here:
Big Tech does not have our best interests in mind. It controls everything.
It thinks governments have no right whatsoever to regulate them.
It's the height of arrogance. And it's going to tear society apart.
The only way to fix it is to not wait for the government to fix it. It’s to create a better digital world where people have choices.
And the choice is the great experience created by the 100 million experts out there (that’s YOU) who now have the technology to actually create customized journeys just like Facebook can.
The difference is, you actually CARE about your audience, while Facebook doesn’t give a rip.
It also doesn’t care about small businesses.
Which is why when you're able to put this technology in the hands of the small business owner, it gives us a chance to fight back and create a new future.
The only hope for the future is small businesses getting access to tech that empowers them to get people's attention on things that are more meaningful.
Ever the historian, I can't help but see historical comparisons...
Like this one: Silicon Valley as the new pirates who have gone out and created this asset class of social media platforms...
It's as if they've discovered the New World and uncovered ungodly amounts of gold.
But at what cost? By destroying native populations with disease? Bringing in slaves to build their own empires?
You might think the so-called digital utopia is free. It is actually neither. It's a game that's rigged against the end-users. And it's rigged against small businesses.
We're all paying for it. At SanityDesk, we’re doing my best to fight back, and we hope you'll join us.
Until we understand history, we can't create the future.
This newsletter is a part of my contribution to creating a brighter, more free future.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.
To owning your stories and your platforms!
Join us on a weekly journey through the history of Technology, and the Future that we need to collectively create to realize the promise and avoid the perils of the Digital Age. Written by the Co-Founder and CEO of SanityDesk - a Former West Point History Professor.
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