Chapter 6

Persistent Digital Engagement

The New Digital Consumer

On a recent Saturday morning, I was sitting in a café and heard a great song from a band I didn't recognize. I asked the staff and they told me the name of the band. Before I had finished my latte, I had purchased the album and downloaded it to my smartphone. Later that day, I read a great article in a national newspaper (online, of course) and mentioned it on a social network. Within five minutes, I had received responses from two friends—one in the Bay Area and one in Finland.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences. Always-on Internet access through your mobile phone allowing you to instantly learn or buy something. Social networks providing connectivity to friends and family near and far. These social networks and Internet connected smartphones are coming together to define the new consumer condition: persistent digital engagement.

A number of thinkers in the middle part of the last century foresaw this new state although they didn't anticipate how the Internet and smartphones would become the pivotal technologies to bring this vision to life. In the 1950s, there was a rush to understand the (then new) medium of television through the still-fresh experience of a pre–mass media marketplace. Television was seen as taking the neighborhood conversation in the local post office and extending it to every post office in every corner of the world—bringing the natural human way of two-way and tribal interaction to a ...

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