21 Characteristics of the Experience Age
John Spacey, December 05, 2020
The experience age is a designation for the present age that is defined by the importance of intangible things to economic production, society and culture.
Intangible ValueThe experience age is defined by the dominance of intangible value to modern economies. Historically, most economic value was in the form of products and raw materials. The experience age demarks an economic shift from things that have a physical form towards intangible things whereby the later begins to represent the dominant type of economic activity. Intangible economic value includes things like services, brands, code, algorithms, digital transactions, digital products, customer experience, shared experiences, epic experiences, storytelling, designs, creative works, inventions, concepts, education, cultural capital and influence that have little or no physical presence.
Knowledge EconomyThere have been many different terms used to describe the shift towards intangible value as the primary type of economic output. First it was known as the service economy that denotes the increasing dominance of the services sector as compared to the manufacturing and primary sector. It is also common to refer to this economic shift as the knowledge economy based on the observation that increasing numbers of workers product knowledge artifacts such as strategies, plans, designs, code and documentation.
Experience EconomyThe experience age phrases the economic shift towards the intangible from the perspective of the customer -- the customer pays for an end-to-end experience. For example, a customer may pay $1000 for a handbag with brand image that they identify with or they may forever avoid a hotel chain based on a single bad experience with front desk staff. Customer experience has immense value such that the value of physical components of things can be small in comparison.
DematerializationDematerialization is the tendency for each dollar of economic production to require less and less raw materials. This is based on smaller and lighter products. It is also based on the value of knowledge, innovation, services and experiences that often have no physical presence. Energy efficiency and renewable energy such as solar also add to dematerialization as historically each dollar of GDP required a great deal of oil.
Commoditization of ExperienceThe design and production of products and services that serve every human need. For example, a video game that serves the human need for adventure and epic meaning.
EscapismProducts and services that provide an escape from everyday realities. This includes familiar services such as television and emerging experiences such as games that simulate life itself.
InclusionServices both nonprofit and for profit that help people to feel included and to meet real people, in a digital or real environment. This includes everything from a neighborhood volunteer organization to a nightclub.
RelativismRelativism is the idea that there is no universal reality, only individual experience of reality. This is a core tenet of postmodern thinking that has dominated the social sciences for several decades. Relativism calls for absolute individualism whereby there are no common truths to unite people. As this asserts people owe society nothing, any attempt to enforce common values and practices is viewed as oppression. This shows up in culture as a sense that nothing is real and that objectivity is meaningless.
IdealismIdealism is the belief that imagination defines reality and not the other way around. This is based on the observation that storytelling can become a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the fiction of today is often the invention of tomorrow.
Imagination EconomyThe tendency for products of the imagination such as design, storytelling and invention to become an increasingly important economic activity.
Small TeamsA tendency towards smaller and smaller creative efforts. For example, the emergence of a large number of independent creators in industries such as music and media who may collaborate with others in decoupled ways.
Remix CultureA read-write culture of creative production whereby creators build on each other's works. This is one of the ways that small creators compete with far larger organizations.
SubcultureSubculture is a flexible culture created by any shared experience. As a result of the internet, people have the ability to meet others with the same interests and way of thinking such that culture tends to fragment into subculture.
DisruptionThe experience age has been a time of rapid change driven by technology such that societies, industries, cultures and professions are constantly changing. This is a process of creative destruction whereby the old ways are quickly replaced.
Traditional CultureTraditional culture plays an important role in the experience age to help to stabilize society. As such, it is not likely to be abandoned but rather may strengthen as change accelerates.
Digital ConvergenceDigital convergence is the tendency for all digital technologies to become one over time. For example, the smartphone replaces a large number of specialized electronic devices such as alarm clocks or game systems.
Immersive ExperienceVirtual reality that provides fully digital experiences that feel real and mixed reality that combines digital and real world elements.
Long TailLong tail is the ability of everyone to compete in areas that were once dominated by large firms and professionals. This first occurred in the media industry whereby social media allows everyone to compete with large media empires. With time, long tail reaches more and more industries as access to technology creates opportunities for broad participation in everything. For example, home 3d printers could one day make factories irrelevant.
Maker CultureThe tendency for people to design, produce and repair things for themselves due to the increased availability of information and digital communities that inspire people to be creative and productive.
Age of the CustomerAn economic shift where customer experience is all important and customers rapidly share information with other customers in order to shift power in their favor. This works well except in the case of monopolies whereby customers have no realistic alternatives anyway.
Start DateThe experience age begins in 1955. This date is based on the opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955. This changed everything as an early example of how to use storytelling, characters, brands and epic experiences to create immense value. For example, if you look at advertising from the early 1950s it is often focused on selling the features of a product. After 1955, advertising begins a seismic shift towards storytelling, branding, emotion and selling the total experience of a product.
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