Why we may be wrong about the internet - according to Mark Penn

Mark Penn on how the Internet era divides us

It used to be that the internet was viewed as a way of connecting people, but it's been evolving into a force that's dividing them, says Mark Penn, the author of "Microtrends Squared: The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today." 

In an updated version of his book "Microtrends," Penn examined the idea that the technological world is separating us as a society. 

"It's very hard to understand what's happening in the world," Penn tells CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett. "Think of the world as an impressionist painting with lots of little dots. Microtrends are those dots. They're the smaller trends that have incredible significance."

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"Microtrends Squared," revisits some theories that did not come to pass. "I always say that we're never good predictors of the future, because we don't understand the present well enough," said Penn, who was chief strategy officer for Microsoft from 2014 to 2016, and a pollster and strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton from 1995 to 2008.

Just a decade ago, Penn was sure online dating would break down social barriers, "I theorized that it would mean incredible social mobility." In his new book, though, he observed a different outcome -- that instead, the internet has created more niche subsections. 

Penn noticed that while the internet brought more diverse people to a single platforms -- like a dating website -- people can now give six criteria to find a person who matches their interests. People can find someone just like them, he says. 

"We thought that this world of choice and personalization would really result in us becoming one big more homogeneous pool where everyone is connected to everybody else. Instead it helped us niche ourselves up," says Penn, "whether it's products, news, politics. And those niches then become kind of cocoons, that really enveloped us and separated us instead of connected us."

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