Revisiting the Evolving User Paradigm

Eleven years ago, I wrote an essay called “The Evolving User Paradigm,” and I believe this to be the most important piece of writing in my history as a new media observer. That’s because you can more easily see the message of that essay today, and it’s even more significant today, especially to special interest institutions such as business, media, medicine, and power institutions like politics, government, and higher education.

All of these groups are lagging behind as innovation continues to sweep our land, and the real problem for these institutions is that the disruptions are coming not from them, but from, as Jay Rosen so brilliantly stated many years ago, the people formerly known as the audience, the churchgoers, the customers, and beyond. It is bottom-up, and these institutions work from the top-down. You can see the conflict.

Moreover, institutional thinking cannot move as fast as the evolving user paradigm, so our culture’s status quo is tilting like a teeter-totter in search of balance. It can’t be done for long, so the very equilibrium of the whole world is gone, and as long as that status quo refuses to move with the evolving user paradigm, the quicker will be its destruction.

The pandemic greatly added to the ability of users to use, simply by isolating them at home with their computers. While the culture looked for solutions to bring us back to “normal,” people had already gone far past them. It’s to the point now where it’s difficult to find employees, because a lot changed over the past 18 months and the people have moved with it.

It has never been more important for us to band together and fight against a status quo that gives every advantage to rich people while sticking the rest of us to janitorial duty in cleaning up their messes. For example, Donald Trump’s tax welfare for the wealthy back when he first took office put 2 trillion dollars into the accounts of the most wealthy people in the U.S. He did it by borrowing money, which we are all now responsible for repaying. If this isn’t an illustration of how we are manipulated by the status quo, then I don’t know what is.

Let me warn everybody: Do not underestimate the evolving user paradigm, for as long as our constitutional freedoms exist, there is simply no way to contain it.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

The Evolving User Paradigm, an essay by Terry Heaton.

I strongly recommend reading or re-reading this old essay, and while you’re doing it, take note of the date it was first published.

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