We love instant gratification… Don’t we?
We want things now, we want them cheap, and we want them to be perfect. We can sort of accept that we often have to pick two from the “Good, Fast, Cheap” selection and abandon hope for the third, but that still means instant decisions and instant benefits.
But we’re moving steadily away from the instant-for-instant transaction. How?
At first, we trade. We make transactions based on now value for now benefits.
We exchange things in the immediate – whether we’re trading goats for chickens or shaking hands, there’s an instantaneous exchange of finite value. It’s easy enough to measure the present – substantive thinking takes over and pushes out the clouds.
But then, we bank. We create situations where we can exchange a-while-ago work for now benefits.
We develop systems like money, as a means of amassing more potential for future gains. We delay our enjoyment of things just a bit – sometimes a lot. I can work today for some money, and not spend that money until five, ten, fifty years from now. The delay is future-facing only.
Then, we develop credit. We trade sometime-soon for now.
This is, almost uniformly, an accident. The idea of credit is so appealing because it feels like we’ve added some supplemental agility to our situation. And, in some very controlled cases, this is true – businesses who use credit smartly can access ranges of customers and suppliers otherwise not available. Credit, when marshaled as a resource and not treated as a lifeline, can be very helpful. But that’s a different story.
What next? Well, that’s the fear of a lot of businesses. That consumers will want to trade never for now.
That’s the fear behind detractors of the Fremium theory.
Let’s say I blog, as I do, and that what I write could be considered expert advice on a topic. The detractor’s theory goes; if I give my expertise away for free on a blog, why would anyone pay to engage me for work?
This is a virulent worry for freelancers, consultants and all manner of knowledge worker. We don’t want to give away our secrets, but in a world filled with asynchronicity, how can we avoid putting the social proof of our knowledge out front to be exploited?
Maybe if we stop worrying about having our trust in asynchronicity exploited, and start wielding it like the tool it can be, we’ll get more back from what we’ve paid forward.
Photo by xJasonRogersx.