Editorial: Individuals will define the digital age

In digital, happily, it is actually quite common to be inspired.

There are plenty of people working in the sector who see it less as a trade and more as a cultural movement that's changing the texture of many people's - and businesses' - lives.

Still, a recent sad event left room for there to be inspiration of an uncommon scale. The tragic death in October of Richard Duvall, who is best known as the co-founder of Egg and then of peer-to-peer money-lending service Zopa, prompted a wave of respect, fond memories and, most of all, tales of how he had inspired people, from, seemingly, all those who had met him.

Many of these tales were posted on the Zopa web site, which, in a bitter-sweet twist, was relaunched on the very day its co-founder passed away. Most interesting of all was a link left by Julie Meyer who, having founded VC dotcom get-together First Tuesday during the boom, now runs Ariadne Capital, a VC vehicle that invests in stand-out ICT businesses, including Zopa. She directed people towards a video of a panel debate she had organised to celebrate Ariadne's fifth birthday. Star of the show that day was Richard Duvall.

It might have been a vision that anyone who had ever heard him speak knew well. But, for this correspondent, his world view left a lasting impression. He spoke brilliantly on the rise of the individual as the defining theme of this digital age; he saw internet communications as the platform for a fifth industrial revolution on the cusp of the point where people and markets are enabled to make the most of it; and he painted a heartening picture of people and companies empowered by new technologies to fulfil their goals. But, most of all, he came across as a bloody nice bloke.

Coincidentally, one of the industries Duvall referred to as being shaken by the digital age was music, a challenge being grappled with by this month's cover star, HMV. In the past, its performance online has been poor, especially given that Amazon.com operates squarely in its space. Plus, the stakes are high since most of its products are likely to be traded entirely digitally at some point. It is a positive sign then that its new e-commerce director seems to have the conviction to drive change through at this venerable business. Another is his plan to launch a new site as early as next spring, offering CD sales alongside digital product such as MP3 downloads and mobile ring tones. Such a site meets the challenge that most businesses have been set by the latest industrial revolution - to offer customers what they want, however they want it. As we think Richard Duvall would have agreed, when the individual is all-powerful, such an approach is key.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message