The Digital Hunter Gatherer by Ade McCormack

My colleagues and I were privileged yesterday to hear from Ade McCormack, digital commentator and FT columnist.

Many of you may already know his anthro-economics.  I found his ideas extremely interesting and stimulating so I asked his permission to blog about them.  (Clearly, to find the real thing you should go to and the

Ade puts forward an anthropological view of the digital world. 12,000 years ago, he suggests, we were roaming the savannah looking to catch lunch.  We were highly mobile and highly social – and our work and life were seamlessly integrated.  We had to make decisions in real time, based on the situation and our experience…

Yes, you have got it: the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago took all of this away.  In factories we stopped being mobile, people became labour and sold their time.  We were no longer allowed to be social and mobile, people hated their work and had to be managed and became cogs in the machine.  Process and efficiency mattered more than fulfilment and fun.

Ade’s theory is that we now need to become “digital hunter-gatherers” in a world transforming faster than ever before.  Both work and our attitude to work are changing.

I am not an anthropologist – and the historian in me wants to argue with him about human beings as farmers, and as elements in the classical and feudal modes of production – but I think this is a really interesting concept.

His insight certainly locks into something profound about how we interact with each other, and there are lessons for business too in how clicks and bricks enterprises need to evolve.

Ade said many other interesting things like the trend for BYOF (Bring Your Own Family!). And, after the Internet of Things, we get the Internet of Embedables: that is, we humans will have intelligence embedded in our bodies.  Not Google Glass but a new retina.  Plus his insight that a car is a rather primitive exo-skeleton.

We live in a time of rapid and exciting change and Ade is a fascinating commentator on what is happening to all of us.

About paulcoby
I am CIO at the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. I was Chair of SITA - the airline solutions company owned by the Air Transport Community - for 11 years. I am also on the Boards of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and Pets at Home. Previously I was Head of BA Services and for 10 years CIO at British Airways. I am interested in Roman and Military History. The views expressed are entirely my own not my employers.

One Response to The Digital Hunter Gatherer by Ade McCormack

  1. Very insightful by Ade as usual, I like the BYOF piece! Not sure about embedables but then again surgery has already gone that way with organs so why not

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