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What Comes After The Coherence Crash?

Our capacity to make sense of events crashed in 2020. New research shows how we coped, embraced a DIY ethos to find perspective.

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) halted trading shares of Zoom Technologies. Volume in “ZOOM” transactions skyrocketed as did its valuation, increasing nearly seven-fold — from around $3 a share to more than $20 — in a month. The SEC’s statement said the company had no meaningful operations and had not reported financial results in five years. Somehow shares of a defunct company shot through the roof.

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Coherence Crashed in 2020

All is not normal. And it’s not solely due to global effects of coronavirus or culture wars sending waves of polarity and confusion throughout society. Coherence crashed following a confluence of world-changing events, the decline of trusted institutions, and technology accelerating faster than human sensibilities can keep up.

A Historic Break in Conventions

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  • Transitions from major social networks into private, special-purpose platforms.
  • Mobilized communities motivated by common interests in ways that aren’t always visible, at a scale hard to fathom.
  • Socially-constructed facts and realities trumping authoritative sources across media, government, and science.
  • The rise of making sense for each other when those we historically turned to lost our trust.

A New Era Has Arrived

So where do we go from here? How do we start to ask questions that address the depth and range of perspective-building and sensemaking required?

  • If individuals are increasingly moving from the public into private networks… how can businesses and marketers use these same networks to connect and empower people to make their mark on the world?
  • If we’re banding together in forums tailored to particular interests… can organizations enhance our communities with relevant participation and perspective?
  • If facts are socially-constructed versus authoritatively told… do we understand the means for how this happens, along with the dis- or misinformation risks that coincide with reality-building?
  • And if we use our collective voice to make sense for each other… can brands and institutions create platforms, services, or expert knowledge, packaged appropriately, to inform (or amplify) the collective’s voice?

Chief Innovation Officer, Weber Shandwick

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