Business is getting real five different ways

While reading a variety of business related articles lately, it occurred to me that commerce is getting real in five different ways. To wit:

Describing the video streaming site Hulu, BusinessWeek had this to say about what characterizes Gen-Y design.

  Hulu's chief design theme, one that clearly appeals to this market, says David Wertheimer, executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, is its pared-down aesthetic, which 'gets at the bare essence of the product.' Hulu's simple pages are unencumbered by advertising, while the user interface is uncomplicated and intuitive. "There are no blinking lights, no flashy buttons all over the place," says Wertheimer. 'It's a simple, high-quality streaming experience.'

 

In contrast, other streaming television services, from ABC, CBS, as well as Fox and NBC's own branded sites, are advertising-heavy, often work poorly, and are generally more complicated to navigate.

One commenter in the story added that "being fake is worse than being uncool."

In other words, consumers are demanding that economic transactions must somehow be believable - whether buying a product's storyline or being directly involved in a good story, people increasingly want - my view - to have faith in their transactions. And from my experience as well, younger people are less likely to purchase from individuals and organizations that substitute blinking lights for solid content.

Elsewhere, Hugh MacLeod has posted the third installment of Hugh & the Rabbi. Gathered 'round a data connection, the group, which includes Hugh, Rabbi Pinny, Johnnie Moore and Mark Earls - freely use words like "infinite" and "love" and "purpose" and "playful" and "belief" to elaborate on the idea that fake is the unforgivable business sin.

And as I've discovered more recently, economics and economists are getting real too.

I recently finished a book, Pulse: the Coming Age of Systems and Machines Inspired by Living Things, that has an interesting and lengthy chapter on the impossibility of divorcing macro economics and monetary policy from physical reality. The author, Robert Frenay, calls on economists to get outside their heads and into the nature of business. The basic idea is that the story of free enterprise is (partially, thus far) the successful story of adapting economic transactions to the ways of the world, to the reality all around us. How loosely joined activity can result in a common good is, of course, Adam Smith's central insight. And Frenay builds on this point by suggesting monetary policy be built around a clearer understanding of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics! It's as unlikely a comment on money as you'll find.

And finally, the understanding of people as rational economic beings is undergoing a revolution. Behavioral economists are ditching the idea that people make obviously rational decisions. As it turns out, you and I as consumers aren't terribly logical. But you already knew that, right?

Wayne