Why the Future Will Feel More Like the "Good Old Days" Than You Think

As technology continues to change the ways both individuals and organizations interact, people increasingly look back with fondness on the "good old days." Recently, certain companies have been capitalizing on this nostalgia in some very unusual ways.
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As technology continues to change the ways both individuals and organizations interact, people increasingly look back with fondness on the "good old days." Recently, certain companies have been capitalizing on this nostalgia in some very unusual ways.

As far back as 2010 (decades in Internet years), online beauty retailer Birchbox rolled out a subscription delivery model that harkened back to a time when milkmen delivered their products straight to their customers' doorsteps. It was, and is, a runaway success that launched countless imitators. Then, in 2013, Dollar Shave Club generated almost 12,000 sign ups in its first two days of existence, by following a similar model for a product as routine as razors.

According to Kevin Kriss and Nick Barba, what we have seen is simply the dial up phase of the digital subscription model. These two technologist-entrepreneurs view what they term close-touch digital economics as the single force that will most shape the structure of society over the next few years.

Kriss and Barba--respectively a former DuPont chemist and a music technology engineer-- have completed a round of funding and are currently working on a digital platform called COAKT, which will enable individuals to transact directly with one another by eliminating the pesky intermediary we commonly call money.

The partners embarked on their mission when they became increasingly troubled by a prevailing set of interconnected societal problems that they observed. With student debts spiraling out of control, salaries stagnating, and good jobs growing ever scarcer, young professionals have struggled unlike at any time within recent memory to find meaningful employment, solvency, and purpose.

In response, Kriss and Barba embarked on a quest to build a virtual marketplace based on Blockchain technology (Bitcoin's underlying "public ledger" technology that has been, until now, primarily associated with finance and crypto-currency) that allows people to efficiently trade whatever unique value they possess rather than working solely to accumulate hard currency.

As lifetime career positions (and the benefits that go with them) give way to more service-specific models-like freelancing and specialist contract work, Kriss and Barba say it is time for professionals to think accordingly. Blockchain technology in general--and COAKT's work in particular--will increasingly empower individuals to organize in brand new ways.

Under this paradigm, collaboration equals power. One person has a connection. Another has available space. And someone else has the organizational skill to pull it all together and benefit from it. Each member of an ad hoc team can exchange their tangible and intangible assets to create something bigger. As entrepreneurs like Kriss and Barba use new technologies such as Blockchain to build products and platforms, close-touch digital economics will provide more and more opportunity. In this vision of a retro "trading economy", talent, knowledge, skill, equipment, space, knowledge, even empathy will all be seen as assets that anyone can leverage to build a better future for themselves.

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