I expect that when they come to define our era alongside the Stone Age and the Iron Age, we will be the Internet Age or perhaps the Age of Communication.
The printing press may have made it possible for the world to read but the internet allows everybody to publish, which I consider to be an equally liberating change.
Of course, much of the web is filled with nonsensical ramblings, conspiracy theories and personal blogs which carefully note every single purchase a person made at the supermarket.
However, interesting websites and blogs can develop virally until they are competing alongside those websites which have spent money on focus groups and snazzy site design to create success in the busy online world.
As an avid user of the internet – this is great. As a marketing professional, I can see how it causes all sorts of issues. Businesses have no control over what is said about them and, because the web is essentially free, rabid anti-brand individuals or pressure groups can cause huge damage to a firm’s reputation.
These individual bloggers can compete on an almost even footing with major brands. While the concept of super-advocates is an interesting area of study, I think super-critics are more likely to impact directly on firms in the near future.
It is challenging, exciting and sometimes damaging but online criticism is not a risk that firms can blithely ignore.