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Polymathic Monthly - Issue #13: Post-Demography and Small Data


Polymathic Monthly

September 17 · Issue #13 · View online
A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

We’ve known for a while now that using demographic segmentation for consumer insights doesn’t work. But, in a digital world, there are two conflicting forces that make the use of demographics more useless than it’s ever been. These are
  • The Long Tail/Access: we can consume services, products, and content from anyone and from anywhere in the world. We can construct our lives to identify and engage with cultures and subcultures that allow us to express our idiosyncrasies and quirks like never before.
  • Monoculture: global brands like Ikea, Apple, Google and Facebook provide their services across the world. For the most part, these products and services look the same in Copenhagen, Cape Town, and Caracas. I’ve walked into a Starbucks in pick-any-city-in-the-world and it looks the same. The irony is that I order the same unique drink in any of these Starbucks locations.
I talk to companies looking to serve this post-demography* consumer and they are truly confused. Some of these large corporations (shockingly) have and rely on tons of demographic data to make decisions. But big data won’t serve. What demographic bucket do you put a ~60yr old rabbi who drives a sports car and lives in a 5-bedroom home all by himself**? How do you assess his energy usage profile? The startups and companies that will win in this new world will be ones that serve a customer of one. The beautiful thing is that we have the tech that enables us to do that.
*post-demography is a phrase I’m borrowing from Trendwatching.
** He’s my neighbor.
  • Blockchain Demo is a tool to help you learn about Blockchain. Pretty nifty. Please note that it starts to use your CPU for mining.
  • Martin Lindstrom’s Small Data provides some ideas on how to handle this post demography world that technology is further enhancing.
  • Machine, Platform, Crowd is one I’ve already started using in my presentations. I recommend it along with my own books 😃 .
  • I’ve been on a Haruki Murakami kick for the last few months. If you haven’t read any of his books, you can start with Norwegian Wood. It’s a profound book about how close we are to the edge of sanity, especially when love is involved.
  • Assessed through the lenses of addictive technology, like the smartphone, the demographic lines have truly blurred. In Irresistible, Adam Alter adds some data to what we already know regarding how our technology is now designed to get us addicted. He also provides some tools and suggestions for how to break the addiction.
Have a great week and, as always, please send recommendations.
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