The Public Relations BlogDigital PRDigital-FirstEnter the Money Web (2016–Present)

Enter the Money Web (2016 – Present)

The social internet is becoming a transactional space.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer


The Hippie Web is dead; enter the Money Web.

Yesterday I gave a talk for a glob­al invest­ment firm. 

I told the invest­ment firm that the Hippie Web (2005 – 2015) had died and that it was time to pre­pare for the Money Web (today and onwards).

Here are the details:

A Roundtable for Chief Strategists

The invest­ment firm had flown in chief strategists from SOMO, Rapp, Qubit, Forward, and Whispr Group. We rep­res­en­ted dif­fer­ent types of digit­al agen­cies (mobile, digit­al advert­ising, con­ver­sion, search and social).

The firm’s investors wanted to inform them­selves about the digit­al future for brands and were eager to hear us present our perspectives.

The oth­er chief strategists poin­ted to count­less excit­ing trends and devel­op­ments, but I wanted to dis­cuss the digit­al trans­form­a­tion more from a birds-eye view. Since I was the last presenter to go up, I was happy with my decision to paint with broad­er strokes.

Summary: My Talking Points

These were my talk­ing points:

  • The Dot-Com Bubble gave way to Social Media. We all know how the dot-com bubble happened. Many of us saw the enorm­ous busi­ness poten­tial of the inter­net. But everything moved too fast, and some­how, we for­got two vital ingredi­ents —e‑commerce know-how and tech­no­lo­gic­ally adap­ted cus­tom­ers. In the wake of the dot-com bubble, social media found its place amongst the rubble.
  • Social Media gave way to the Hippe Web. Once social got a firm hold over the inter­net, the online revolu­tion was powered by social inter­ac­tion and inform­a­tion shar­ing, not com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions. The adop­tion of social media was explos­ive, pav­ing the way for a new class of social media nat­ur­als.
  • The Hippe Web gave way to Social Graphs. Brands were cor­di­ally invited to par­ti­cip­ate (“join the con­ver­sa­tion”) on the Hippie Web, but at the core of every online inter­ac­tion was the social graph (i.e. nodes in a net­work of social rela­tion­ships). Online vir­al­ity was among the first proofs of the social graph’s immense power.
  • Social Graphs gave way to Big Data. One out­come of how users con­nect and share with each oth­er via their social graphs turned out to be a pre­cious busi­ness asset — big data. By ana­lys­ing online beha­viours, we can learn to become increas­ingly suc­cess­ful in con­vert­ing inform­a­tion con­sumers into buy­ing customers.
  • Big Bata is now giv­ing way to the Money Web. With big data, we now have the found­a­tion for e‑commerce know-how. And with 15 years since the dot-com bubble, we have tech­no­lo­gic­ally adap­ted cus­tom­ers. We will rap­idly see online pay­ments replace phys­ic­al pay­ments from here and many years forward.

What To Expect From the Money Web

In the digit­al space, atten­tion is a cur­rency.”
— Brian Solis

Here are my takeaways from my talk at the invest­ment firm:

  • The Money Web will be a stark con­trast to the Hippie Web.
  • Digital-first will force­fully drive digit­al trans­form­a­tion across markets.
  • Algorithms will replace dir­ect social inter­ac­tion as the prime driver for gen­er­at­ing social graph data.
  • Companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple are well-posi­tioned to gen­er­ate vast amounts of com­mer­cial-type data.
  • E‑commerce might have had a false start, but the industry seems to have a bright future (for real this time). 
  • Traditional com­pan­ies look­ing to move their busi­ness online might have oth­er excit­ing opportunities.
Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: The Electronic Age

The Electronic Age according to Marshall McLuhan.
The Electronic Age accord­ing to Marshall McLuhan.
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The Electronic Age

Human cul­ture is often described based on our access to pro­duc­tion tech­no­lo­gies (e.g., the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age).

According to Marshall McLuhan and the Toronto School of Communication Theory, a bet­ter ana­lys­is would be to view soci­et­al devel­op­ment based on the prom­in­ence of emer­ging com­mu­nic­a­tions technologies.

Marshall McLuhan - Cambridge University - Digital-First
Marshall McLuhan at Cambridge University, circa 1940.

McLuhan sug­gests divid­ing human civil­isa­tion into four epochs:

  • Oral Tribe Culture. Handwriting marks the begin­ning of the end of the Oral Tribe Culture. The Oral Tribe Culture per­sists but without its former prominence.
  • Manuscript Culture. Printing marks the begin­ning of the end of the Manuscript Culture. The Manuscript Culture per­sists but without its former prominence.
  • Gutenberg Galaxy. Electricity marks the begin­ning of the end of the Gutenberg Galaxy. The Gutenberg Galaxy per­sists but without its former prominence.
  • Electronic Age. Today, we reside in the Electronic Age. Possibly, we haven’t exper­i­enced the begin­ning of this age’s decline yet.

The Gutenberg Galaxy is a land­mark book that intro­duced the concept of the glob­al vil­lage and estab­lished Marshall McLuhan as the ori­gin­al ‘media guru’, with more than 200,000 cop­ies in print.”
Source: Modern Language Review 1McLuhan, M. (1963). The Gutenberg galaxy: the mak­ing of typo­graph­ic man. Modern Language Review, 58, 542. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​2​3​0​7​/​3​7​1​9​923

As a PR pro­fes­sion­al and lin­guist, I sub­scribe to the concept of the Electronic Age. My belief is that soci­ety is unlikely to revert to the Gutenberg Galaxy.

Thus, digit­al-first is the way for pub­lic rela­tions, too.

Read also: The Electronic Age and The End of the Gutenberg Galaxy

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PR Resource: Types of Algorithm Graphs

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Types of Algorithm Graphs

Search engines, social net­works, and online ser­vices typ­ic­ally have a wealth of user data to optim­ise the user experience.

Here are examples of dif­fer­ent types of graphs that social media algorithms use to shape desired behaviours:

  • Social graph. The media com­pany can access your friend list and push their con­tent (or favoured con­tent) into your feed.
  • Interest graph. The media com­pany can access your interests (top­ics, per­sons of interest, dif­fi­culty level, format pref­er­ences, on-plat­form-spe­cif­ic beha­viours, etc.) from your usage history.
  • Predictive graph. The media com­pany can access all graphs from users not con­nec­ted to you but with whom you share a stat­ist­ic­al like­ness and show their pre­ferred con­tent to you.
  • Prescriptive graph. The media com­pany can push con­tent into your feed to manip­u­late your over­all emo­tion­al exper­i­ence when using the platform.
  • Trend graph. The media com­pany can push con­tent into your feed based on what seems to be trend­ing on the platform.
  • Contextual graph. The media com­pany can access con­tex­tu­al data like loc­a­tion, weath­er, cal­en­dar events, affil­i­ations, world events, and loc­al events.
  • Commercial graph. The media com­pany can access data on how you and oth­ers like you inter­act with com­mer­cial content.

The dif­fer­ent graphs are typ­ic­ally weighted dif­fer­ently. For instance, some media com­pan­ies allow a fair degree of social graph con­tent, while oth­ers offer almost none. Changes are con­stantly being enforced, and the silent switch might be the most not­able example of a media com­pany shift­ing away from the social graph. 2Silfwer, J. (2021, December 7). The Silent Switch — A Stealthy Death for the Social Graph. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​i​l​e​n​t​-​s​w​i​t​ch/

The media com­pany can lever­age these graphs using two main approaches:

  • Matching. The media com­pany can use vari­ous graphs to gen­er­ate your social feed. Depending on the com­plex­ity of the ana­lys­is, this approach is slow and expens­ive with react­ive (unpre­dict­able) results.
  • Profiling. The media com­pany can use vari­ous graphs to place you in stat­ist­ic­al sub­groups, allow­ing con­tent to iter­ate to the right audi­ence. This approach is fast and cheap with pro­act­ive (pre­dict­able) results.

Today, pro­fil­ing seems to be the dom­in­ant approach amongst media companies.

Learn more: The 7 Graphs of Algorithms: You’re Not Unknown

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1 McLuhan, M. (1963). The Gutenberg galaxy: the mak­ing of typo­graph­ic man. Modern Language Review, 58, 542. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​2​3​0​7​/​3​7​1​9​923
2 Silfwer, J. (2021, December 7). The Silent Switch — A Stealthy Death for the Social Graph. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​i​l​e​n​t​-​s​w​i​t​ch/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has



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