Are you addicted to the internet? Or perhaps Facebook, or email? If you say 'yes', you're one of a growing number of people who feels compelled to interact with technology on a regular basis.

This is a trend that may only get worse. At least that's what prominent angel investor Paul Graham thinks.

In a blog post, Graham writes:

The world is more addictive than it was 40 years ago. And unless the forms of technological progress that produced these things are subject to different laws than technological progress in general, the world will get more addictive in the next 40 years than it did in the last 40.

It's an intriguing thought, but Graham's conclusion is even more interesting to me:

But if I'm right about the acceleration of addictiveness, then this kind of lonely squirming to avoid it will increasingly be the fate of anyone who wants to get things done. We'll increasingly be defined by what we say no to.

Despite all the distractions that most of us grapple with on a daily basis, most of us strive to 'get things done.' Whether you run a business, develop website, are a marketer, etc., results rarely produce themselves. And increasingly, the technologies we rely on to produce results can be the same technologies that hamper our ability to produce them.

From this perspective, Graham's post provides some particularly useful hidden insight no matter what you do, or which industry you work in. Far too often, we focus on the things "we like too much." How can I expand the scope of my products and services? How can I build a 'stickier' website? How can I create more 'innovative' marketing campaigns? We're addicted to more, faster, thinking that both of those things combined equals 'better'. But they usually don't. Unfortunately, as Graham notes, the "accelerating rate at which technological progress throws off new addictions" is something we probably won't be able to fight.

But this is good news in my opinion. Why? This will provide significant opportunities for businesses and individuals who recognize the simple fact that in our fast-paced world of clutter and distractions, those who have simple solutions will be able to create more value for customers, and extract more revenue from them.

If you run a business, focus less on developing cool new products and services; remember that your customers probably come to you looking for a simple, cost-effective solution to a problem. If you build websites, don't worry so much about how 'sticky' they are; utility may not always be sexy but it matters more than ever. If you develop marketing campaigns, remember that your story -- the message -- is what compels consumers; all the cool mediums you have at your disposal can't create such a message for you. And so on and so forth.

In short, in a world where the number of things we like too much is growing at such a rapid pace, the businesses and individuals who can give their customers a breather and help them 'get things done' will be worth their weight in gold.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 July, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)


Akash Sharma

Hi Patricio,It would interesting to call this Digital Irony as the information flow that has been squared so many times since the last 40 years, this sort of a change was bound to happen because now everyone can search Know-How of creating unique stuff.

We have more feeds, more filtrations as well but at the end of the day it's more content that we take in, I think we are reaching a time capsule where people will tend to stick with content generators whom they are most emotionally connected to and this topic is ideal for relevant discussion.

about 8 years ago


Graham Jones - Internet Psychologist

An interesting post, but I'm not convinced. For a start, where is the evidence that the world is "more addictive" now than before...? Equally what people claim as "addiction to Facebook" (or email ets) is nothing of the sort. There is much popular myth about so-called internet addiction, almost none of it backed up with any scientific evidence.

The point about focus is true now as it always has been. Indeed, there are some classic books of self development written well before the internet was invented that make the same point.

Successful businesses have always done what the last paragraph of this blog post suggests. The internet itself has nothing to do with it.

about 8 years ago

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