Social media and cyclicality

Social cycle theories have been around for quite some time, arguing “that events and stages of society and history are generally repeating themselves in cycles”. I see this theory applied to Web 2.0 all the time. At its worst, I’ve heard otherwise reasonably intelligent people say that Web 2.0 is ‘just another channel’.

As I see it, this way of thinking is really quite convenient for many. It provides a certain level of comfort to us… the notion that everything works in cycles, we’ve seen it in some fashion as a society before, and therefore we’re somehow magically, inherently capable of handling the next stage in the cycle as a society with minimal effort. After all, we’ve been there before.

The global warming debate faces this all the time. On one side is a group of people who view global temperature fluctuations as simply cyclical – “we’ve been here before, no reason to worry”. On the other side are the folks who say “we’re collectively impacting our planet on an unprecedented scale, and it’s about to bite us in the ass if we don’t shape up.”

I believe that Web 2.0 is not even evolutionary but, rather, revolutionary. What’s happening on the Internet ‘these days’ and how it progresses will have a dramatic affect on our businesses, our economy overall, and how we organize / interact / come together as human beings. The times they are a-changin’. And it’s still very early days.

Thinking about Web 2.0 in the context of a small, intimate local market is helpful because many choose to behave differently in this situation versus when it is thought nobody is watching. But we shouldn’t be lulled into thinking that Web 2.0 is simply another stage in a grand cycle – that we’ve been here before. I don’t think we have.

Previously posted on

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