The Tribes Are Merging

It arrived on a Friday morning; 'it' being the September issue of Fast Company. As CCO, I gifted every employee of our tiny company a subscription to the popular magazine. After all, innovation needs fodder, and Fast Company has shaped my own perspectives for years. If knowledge is power, then business, design, and tech knowledge would become our super power.

Gwyneth Paltrow for Fast Company

Gwyneth Paltrow for Fast Company

A quick glance at the front and back revealed much. If not for the headlines and typography, Gwyneth Paltrow's cover shot could be mistaken for a style magazine. Flip the issue over - Saint Laurent Paris. "The tribes are merging." It's an idea I've tinkered with for years. In fact, the About page of this website describes one facet of a shifting trend in how we operate and associate. We're abandoning buckets with lightening speed.

This has become most evident in the sphere of the influencer -- you know, the celebs and big thinkers who dictate how the world spins on its axis. In the olden days (which weren't that long ago, actually), those spheres were largely separate. There was the musician; the fashion designer; the technology guru -- it goes on. Each possessed a unique identity and set of talents that may overlap or inspire the other. But they remained independent and discernible, dancing throughout our pop culture like bubbles in the wind.

We're now in an age where the musician is the fashion designer. Science geeks have become our heroes; and singing, foodie actresses are digital moguls. Spheres are no longer independent. The tribes are becoming one, and our media (Fast Company and the rest) are adapting to tell the story.

Is this a good thing? As someone with an affinity towards many disciplines and an aversion towards labels, the singular tribe is a welcome relief. But I can quickly temper such feelings of liberation with small doses of realism. If anyone can be everything, who is the expert? Who takes the thousand hours to hone their craft, propel it to new levels, and pass it down like a Jedi to a Padawan?

"Some things are meant to be separate," an associate commented. "Some of us would like to crack open Rolling Stone and read about music." He went on to suggest that while certain influencers can legitimately wear many hats, others are simply force-fitting the most profitable ones.

Aside from such debates, I wonder what it will mean for society and the evolution of art and technology. It could be awesome -- a giant bubble absorbing everything, fueling itself, growing beyond what we imagine, and creating the impossible. But we all know what lies on the other side of bubbles. I guess I'll take it as it comes.