The Internet is the greatest disappearing act of all time

This summer, our team presented five high-level digital marketing trends for an interested client. Among those mega-trends discussed, the concept of Quantified Self was introduced. Certainly not new to 2013 (or this decade for that matter), its continued proliferation into all aspects of human life can’t be dismissed as irrelevant or a fad. In fact, this trend is more likely to be a norm that will become synonymous with living everyday life.

For the client meeting, the relevance of Quantified Self was that through devices and the Internet we’re increasingly able to quantify our life and the things around us, and we highlighted a few examples of how this might apply to our clients’ business. Tracking body weight, blood pressure, calories burned, and mile splits are obvious ones. What about monitoring the quality of your sleep, a newborn baby’s breathing patterns and room temperature, or whether Fido was a couch potato all day? As I write this I literally can’t lose the ads for Tile, a new technology that lets you track anything it is attached to, with the irony not lost on me that if only I’d click I may never lose anything again.

Reveal Labs.
Reveal Labs. “Tile.” The Tile App []
But the Quantified Self movement shares responsibility for a larger emerging digital trend, too, that you maybe haven’t yet noticed.

The Internet is disappearing.

A funny thing to say about something that was never visible in the first place. Since the advent of the smartphone, the question “what about mobile?” became the “mobile first” approach (think Scoutmob), and now some of us have even adopted a “mobile only” strategy (like Vine). Aside from the hours you spend seated at your work computer, how often do you find yourself typing Facebook into your browser these days? Do you even think about being online when you post photos to Instagram or check in on Yelp or Foursquare? Or when you get news updates from your Huffpost app?

According to GfK MRI data in 2012, 47 percent of us “would feel disconnected without the Internet.” No small percentage. But what if I told you that was down from 54 percent in 2010? Furthermore, average time spent online over the same period increased from 155 minutes per day in 2010 to 173 minutes in 2012 (eMarketer). Our concept of “Internet” – sitting in dark rooms at desktop machines – has slowly and quietly faded away as being connected became a part of everyday (and every minute) life.

The number of “smart” devices promising even greater integration through the Internet is seemingly endless. The coming Kreyos watch integrates gesture control to communicate with your phone and builds on what Pebble and others started. Similarly, the Myo armband enables complex gesture control of devices through virtually every muscle in your forearm, including gestures to capture photos and post to Facebook. And who could miss Samsung’s heavy rotation of TV ads touting their wicked slew of integrated TVs, tablets, phones, and the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch? Even Comcast and AT&T offer home security apps that will turn on lights, lock doors, stream video, and set your thermostat from anywhere with a hotspot or cell tower. This is the Internet of Things.

What will be the impact be on our “Internet perception” with the introduction of utterly new devices like Google Glass or brain-wave reading Muse. No longer do we passively “surf the web.” We touch it, gesture to it, wear it, and speak to it. And soon, we’ll communicate with it JUST BY THINKING!?!

[makes head-exploding hand gesture; moves all 401k contributions to technology-heavy investments]

InteraXon. “Muse Headband.” Screen capture via “Introducing Muse: Changing the Way the World Thinks.” InteraXon []
So – why is the Internet the greatest disappearing act of all time?

Because we’re thinking less and less actively about being “on” the Internet despite spending more and more time connected. The internet is bigger, literally more “real” and physical than ever. Instead of relying on clunky computers, it’s hiding in plain sight – in your phone, on your wrist, in your car, your thermostat, and maybe even your dog’s collar.

I’d love to know if you are interested in or already taking part in quantifying YOUR life. Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!